Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest


Applications are no longer being accepted. The deadline was Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at 5 p.m.
Thank you for your interest.


Strengthen the reading, writing and public speaking skills of students while encouraging them to learn about and support 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 (4) minutes.
  • Students must follow the theme – We have a great deal of positive work to do.
    This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. the Board of Education decision, May 17, 1954. Sixty years later, we still are grappling with the evils of segregation, especially as they affect the education of our youth. King referred to this decision, what it meant, the progress it signaled, but that there was still a lot to be done.
    Excerpt from: “Address at Public Meeting of the Southern Christian Ministers Conference of Mississippi” 23 September 1959 {Jackson, Miss.} All of this reveals that we have a great deal of positive work to do before the ideals and principles of an integrated society are brought into full realization. Let me hasten to say that this problem will not just work itself out. It is a fallacy to say that time will cure all problems. If time is not aided by human effort, it becomes a powerful ally of the insurgent and primitive forces of irrational emotionalism and social stagnation. The Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (thekingcenter.org)
  • Student behavior should be attentive, courteous and supportive at all times.
  • Speakers will be judged using the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest Judging Criteria.


Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014

MPS Central Services Building Auditorium
5225 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee

Check in at the MPS Central Services Auditorium before grade level category begins.

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


8:30 a.m.



9:30 a.m.



10:30 a.m.



11:30 a.m.



12:30 p.m.



1:30 p.m.


Note: If the speech contest is cancelled due to inclement weather, preliminaries will be held Dec. 3 at the same times and location.


Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014

  • Top five speakers from each grade level category qualify for finals.
  • Location: We Energies Public Service Building Auditorium, 231 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee
  • Complimentary breakfast 8:30-9 a.m.
  • Speeches begin at 9 a.m.

Awards ceremony

Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015

  • 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.