In conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, elementary school students from Houston and Dallas competed in Gardere’s annual MLK Jr. Oratory Competition on Jan. 16. Now in its 23rd year in Dallas and 19th in Houston, the event features students who speak for three to five minutes on a topic related to the impact of Dr. King. This year’s prompt asked, “If Dr. King were to win the Nobel Peace Prize today, what would he say in his acceptance speech?” The top 20 participants, selected from 360 fourth- and fifth-grade students representing 39 schools in Dallas and Houston, were judged on delivery, stage presence and decorum, content interpretation, and memorization.

At the end of the day, the winners included Etana King, a fifth-grade student from John Neely Bryan Elementary in Dallas, and Chase Roberts, a fifth grader from Cornelius Elementary in Houston.

“The inspiring speeches prepared by these young orators are a testament to their commanding presentation skills and offer compelling insights to their thoughts on Dr. King’s words,” said Holland N. O’Neil, chair of Gardere. “By applying his teachings to today, the students bring new life to Dr. King’s legacy.”

For more information on the competition, go to