Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest


Applications are no longer being accepted. The deadline was Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, 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: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Celebrating the legacy for 35 years.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a vision for peace, justice and equality. For the past 35 years, youth in our community have continued to carry on his legacy by using their voices to further his dream. For the 2018 speech contest, educators are asked to familiarize students with Dr. King’s beliefs, words and actions. As students prepare their speeches, have them reflect and write about King’s legacy and how it relates to themselves or others in their families, schools, neighborhoods or world.
  • Student behavior should be attentive, courteous and supportive at all times.
  • Speakers are judged using the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest Judging Criteria.


Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018
MPS Central Services Building Auditorium
5225 W. Vliet St.

Check in at 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 Nov. 28 at same times and location.


Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018

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

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

Complimentary breakfast 8:15-9 a.m.
Speeches begin at 9 a.m.

Awards ceremony

Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019

  • 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.