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OCSD's Annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition Announces 2022 Winners

Local students inspired their families, schools and community on Monday, February 28 by their confidence, presence and masterful delivery of prepared speeches during the Orangeburg County School District (OCSD) MLK Jr. Oratory Competition.

The annual oratory competition featured 14 students, a talented group comprised of one fourth or fifth grade school contest winner from each of the District’s elementary schools. The contest allows OCSD students to use their voices to motivate and inspire others through the art of public speaking. In addition, it serves as a celebration of cultural diversity and spotlights the students as they honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and celebrate his contributions and so many others as part of Black History Month.

Each student’s powerful, deeply personal speech was based on the competition theme, “Awakening the Consciousness of Compassion,” and answered the question, “What movement would you support, start or lead; why is this movement important?”  

Malachi Jean (seen on right), a fifth grader at Mellichamp Elementary won first place, Dilyn Berry (pictured in middle), a fourth grader at Bethune-Bowman Elementary placed second, and Harlem Brown (seen on left), a fifth grader at Holly Hill Elementary brought home the third-place prize. Congratulations to these three, along with all 14 inspiring participants.

Each original two-to-five-minute speech incorporated ideals from Dr. King’s teachings and demonstrated how his words continue to impact and inspire lives.

OCSD’s first place winner, Malachi Jean shared his concerns with gun violence and motivated attendees to act on what we say we believe about the leading cause of death in youth today. Jean hopes to lead a music movement which promotes positivity and life, not death. He would call this the “Orangeburg Anti-Gun Violence Music Movement,” and feature his peers who would make music with a message against gun violence, “music that heals over music that kills.”

Each contestant received a certificate of participation, trophy, and gift certificate. A check for $500 was the reward for first place, $300 for second, and $150 for third, sponsored by Davis Toyota of Orangeburg. MLK, Jr. Contest Winners will also deliver inspirational messages as part of the back-to-school celebrations for the coming year.

“These students make me want to get up in the morning and come to work,” Foster commented. “I can’t think of a more inspirational start to next year’s school year than our employees hearing directly from our talented scholars.”  

Cecil J. Williams, a native of Orangeburg, professional photographer, videographer, publisher and author of six books, was also honored at the event for “Awakening the Consciousness of Compassion” through his work to document the history of African Americans in the south and the Civil Rights Movement.

The energy and excitement of the event, with inspirational music performed by the award- winning North/HKT Concert and Jazz Bands and our passionate well-spoken students, motivated the more than 100 audience members in attendance and several hundred more who joined virtually. A recording of the event is on the District’s website and YouTube channel.



Dilyn Berry, Bethune-Bowman Elementary (4th)

Harlem Brown, Holly Hill Elementary (5th)

Duane Butler, Sheridan Elementary (5th)

Jasmine Cook, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler Elementary (5th)

Ava Ferguson, St. James-Gaillard Elementary (4th)

Lavasvaughn Haase, Vance-Providence Elementary (5th)

Roberta Hart, Elloree Elementary (4th)

Malachi Jean, Mellichamp Elementary (5th)

Jackson Jett, Lockett Elementary (4th)

Jaylen Johnson, Dover Elementary (5th)

Diego McAlhany, Edisto Elementary (5th)

Saniya Patel, Marshall Elementary (5th)

Ka’Son Spigner, Whittaker Elementary (4th)

Matthew Stack, Brookdale Elementary (5th)

MLK oratory top 3 winners