Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest


Applications are no longer being accepted. The deadline was Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, at 5 p.m.
Thank you for your interest.


Strengthen reading, writing and public speaking skills of students, and encourage learning and support of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


  • Open to K-12 students who live in the city of Milwaukee or attend a Milwaukee public, private, charter or home school.
  • One speech entry per grade-level category per school (Each school should establish a procedure to determine their entry for each grade level category.)
  • Speeches must be written and delivered by the student speaker. Use of notes is optional.
  • Speeches are timed and must not exceed four minutes.
  • Students must use the theme: "We must act now."
    The theme is taken from, “The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness” Address at the Golden Anniversary of the National Urban League, Sept. 6, 1960, {New York, NY}
    “The greatest challenge facing the nation today is to solve this pressing problem and bring into full realization the ideals and dreams of our democracy. How we deal with this crucial situation will determine our political health as a nation and our prestige as a leader of the free world. We must act now! It is a trite yet urgently true observation that if America is to remain a first-class nation, it cannot have second-class citizens.”
  • Student behavior should be attentive, courteous and supportive at all times.
  • Speakers are judged using the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest Judging Judging Criteria.


Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

Golda Meir Campus – Rosa Parks Auditorium
1615 N. Martin Luther King Drive

Check in at Golda Meir Campus Auditorium before grade-level category begins.

Grade-level category times (Only one entry per grade level category per school.)

K-2 8:30 a.m.
3-4 9:30 a.m.
5-6 10:30 a.m.
7-8 11:30 a.m.
9-10 12:30 p.m.
11-12 1:30 p.m.

Note: If contest is cancelled due to inclement weather, preliminaries will be held Dec. 2 at same times and location.


Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015

Top five speakers from each grade level category qualify for finals.

We Energies Public Service Building Auditorium
231 W. Michigan St.

Complimentary breakfast 8:30-9 a.m.
Speeches begin at 9 a.m.

Awards ceremony

Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016

  • First-place winners from each grade-level category deliver their speeches.
  • All first-, second- and third-place winners are recognized on stage during the speech contest award ceremony for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.