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Dallas Students Answer How Dr. King's Teachings Can Help Us Today

The 29th Annual Foley & Lardner Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition, co-presented by Dallas ISD, was held at W.H. Adamson High School Friday.

Incorporating ideals from King’s writings and speeches, eight fourth and fifth-grade students were challenged to deliver original speeches addressing the topic: How do you think Dr. King's teachings can help us today?

A spokesperson for the event said it's goal is to highlight the cultural diversity of the community, while recognizing and encouraging the writing and presentation skills of elementary students.

More than 65 students representing 13 Dallas ISD schools participated in the event this year.

The winner was Dominic Patermo, fifth-grader from Harry C. Withers Elementary in Dallas. He'd also competed last year and place second.

Dominic Patermo Winning Speech at the 29th Annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition

MORE | Watch The Full Competition On Facebook

During his speech, Dominic discussed four key lessons from Dr. King that would help unite the world:

  • Live with intention and purpose, knowing your cause.
  • Change is constant, and it’s your reaction that matters.
  • Enlist your allies, even if they are not your best friends.
  • And most importantly, persevere.

“We need to pursue the truth within ourselves! We need to continue to fight for what is right and have compassion and faith for one another,” Dominic said during the speech. “Our Americanness is not enough. We must be united. Believe. Be real. Be you.”

The event looked a little different this year, due to the pandemic. Organizers used a live-virtual hybrid approach in an effort to follow current health and safety guidelines.

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Gabrielle Jones has a passion for serving diverse audiences. She is the Audience Editor at KERA in Dallas, Texas.