Statewide Oratorical Contest

The Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission is committed to educating children about Dr. King's legacy of brotherhood among all people.  The 2019 contest marks the 20th anniversary of the statewide oratorical contest which the state Holiday Commission adopted in 1999. The contest has a total of four divisions: primary (grades kindergarten-2); intermediate (grades 3-5); junior (grades 6-8); and senior (grades 9-12).

The 2019 statewide oratorical contest will be in April 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The theme is “It's Our Turn: A Movement toward Justice.”

Each year, regional contests send their first, second and third place presenters to take part in the state competition. This year's regional contests includes: Akron (Summit County), Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Marion-Morrow-Knox Tri-County and Southeastern Ohio (Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties). In order to take part in the statewide contest, participants must first take part in regional contests. However, those students who do not have a regional contest in their area are welcome to participate as well.

To participate in a regional contest, please contact one of the coordinators below. 

NOTE: If there is a regional competition in your area, you must compete in the local competition.  Only contestant registrations from areas without a regional competition will be accepted individually.

Please click here for the news release announcing winners of the 2018 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest.

Please click here to view the rules and regulations for the 2018 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest.

If you are interested in beginning a regional contest in your area, or for more information on the statewide oratorical contest, please contact the Ohio Department of Administrative Services' Equal Opportunity Division at 614-466-8380 or

2018 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest

First place – Quinica Garrett, 17, 11th-grade, St. Martin DePorres High School, Cleveland. Runners-up – Demeshia Darmond, 16, 11th-grade, St. Martin DePorres High School, Cleveland; and Bre'Anna Walker, 16, 10th-grade, Columbus Alternative High School, Columbus.

First place – Mackenzie Lewis, 11, sixth-grade, St. Catharine School, Columbus. Runners-up – Alexis Cunningham, 12, seventh-grade, Columbus Academy, Westerville; and Amaira Cochran, 12, sixth-grade, Charity Adams Earley Girls Academy, Dayton.

First place – Adonia Balqis, 9, fourth-grade, Clinton Elementary School, Columbus. Runners-up – Nathan Edwards, 10, fifth-grade, Emmanuel Christian Academy, Akron; and Elena Early, 9, fourth-grade, Clinton Elementary School, Columbus.

First place – Jackson Edwards, 7, second-grade, Emmanuel Christian Academy, Akron. Runners-up – Kaia Pax Lee, 8, second-grade, Clinton Elementary School, Columbus; and Zavier Early, 6, kindergarten, Clinton Elementary School, Columbus.

Please click here to view photos from the 2018 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest and other MLK Commission events.

Pictured: Contestants, judges and commissioners at the 2018 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest.