Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest

Applications are no longer being accepted. Thank you for your interest.


Strengthen students’ reading, writing and public speaking skills while encouraging them to learn about and support the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


  • Open to K-12 students.
  • 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: "Working toward a world of peace."
    There is no easy way to create a world where men and women can live together, where each has his own job and home and where all children receive as much education as their minds can absorb. But if such a world is created in our lifetime, it will be done in the United States by Negroes and white people of good will. It will be accomplished by persons who have the courage to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflict suffering upon others. It will be done by rejecting racism, materialism and violence that has characterized Western Civilization and especially by working toward a world of brotherhood, cooperation and peace.
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; A Time to Break Silence; 4 April 1967; New York City.
  • 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.

Virtual preliminaries

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022

Sponsored by Milwaukee Public Schools

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.

In-person finals

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022

Sponsored by We Energies

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

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

MLK 2021 virtual speech contest highlights video
2021 speech highlights
(3:08 min)

MLK 2020 speech highlights video
2020 speech highlights
(3:03 min)

MLK 2019 speech highlights video
2019 speech highlights
(4:04 min)