2023 Themes

  • Please choose from one of the following three themes. Resource links are provided below each theme for further information.


    Purpose in Life & How We Want to Be Remembered


    1. “I’d like for someone to say, Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others…I’d like for someone to say that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody…I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.” (King, “The Drum Major,” 185–186).
    1. “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” (King, “The Drum Major,” 185–186)



    Activity: In Dr. King’s Drum Major Instinct 1968 sermon he reflects on his sense of purpose and how he wanted to be remembered after he died.How would you like to be remembered right now, 5 or 10 years from now? How would you like to be remembered for making a difference in other people’s lives?



    The Drum Major Instinct – (5 min excerpt)



    The Drum Major Instinct , 2/4/1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church recording https://youtu.be/Mefbog-b4-4


    Dr MLK, Jr Research & Education Institute – Drum Major Instinct


About the MLK Oratorical

  • More than four decades ago, the Founder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oratorical Fest, Donald Oliver had a vision. He wanted to showcase students' oratorical skills and he wanted to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He felt that the testing/reading score data did not truly lift students’ comprehension and fluency skills and abilities, but he knew that delivering an oration was an academic exercise that required students to read and comprehend complex text in order to analyze, synthesize, interpret, critique, and present or perform that text (creating a new form through performance) in a competition in public speaking.


    This brings us to 2023 and the 44th Annual OUSD Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Festival in which schools at all grade levels across Oakland have an opportunity to bring Donald Oliver's vision to their students. Below you find information about grade level divisions and the oratorical festival categories. 

    Grade Level Divisions:

    • Pre-Kindergarten-2nd grade
    • 3rd-5th grade
    • 6th-8th grade
    • 9th-12th grade



    • Individual Performer – 1 Performer on Stage
      • Monologue - original or published in a script (3 min)
      • Poetry - published poetry (3 min)
      • Poetry - original poetry (poet performing poem they wrote, 3 min)
      • Speech - famous & not so famous – (3 min)
    • Two or More Performers on Stage Groups/Scenes
      • Poetry – published (up to 5 min)
      • Poetry - original (written by the performing poets, (up to 5 min)
      • Speech - famous & not so famous (up to 5 min)
      • Scene - published & devised (up to 5 min)

    Please see Divisions and Categories Information Details for number of entries allowed per school.

2023 Timeline

  • School Oratorical
    January 17, 2023 – January 27, 2023


    District-Wide Registration

    Secondary: 1/23 - 26

    Elementary: 1/26 – 1/31 (hard deadline)


    District-Wide Competition

    Skyline High School


    Tuesday, January 31, 2023: 9:30 am - 1:00 pm

    Secondary Schools


    Tuesday, February 7, 2023: 9:15 am - 1:00 pm

    Elementary Schools (A-J)


    Tuesday, February 14, 2023: 9:15 am - 1:00 pm

    Elementary Schools (K – Z)


    Sunday, February 26, 2023: 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm

    Finals Showcase



    District Wide Registration

    Opening January 2023

  • Useful Documents and Links

    Coming Soon

Contact Information


    Awele (ah WAY lay) Makeba tony.douangviseth@ousd.org

    Producer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Fest

    Cell | 510-601-0178 cell

    Skyline | 510-482-7109, Ext. 204