Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest


Applications are no longer being accepted. The deadline was 5 p.m. Nov. 22, 2013. Thank you for your interest.


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


  • Open to K-12 students who live in the city of Milwaukee or attend a Milwaukee public, private, charter or home school.
  • 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 (4) minutes.
  • Students must follow the theme – Nonviolence: the most potent weapon.
    “As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. .....The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Found in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington. HarperCollins (1986): 38-39.
  • Student behavior should be attentive, courteous and supportive at all times.
  • Speakers will be judged using the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest Judging Criteria.


Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013

MPS Central Services Building Auditorium
5225 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee

Check in at the MPS Central Services Auditorium before grade level category begins.

Grade level category times (Only one entry per grade level category per school.)


8:30 a.m.



9:30 a.m.



10:30 a.m.



11:30 a.m.



12:30 p.m.



1:30 p.m.


Note: If the speech contest is cancelled due to inclement weather, preliminaries will be held Dec. 4 at the same times and location.


Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013

  • Top five speakers from each grade level category qualify for finals.
  • Location: We Energies Public Service Building Auditorium, 231 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee
  • Complimentary breakfast 8:30-9 a.m.
  • Speeches begin at 9 a.m.

Awards ceremony

Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014

  • First place winners from each grade level category deliver their speeches.
  • All first, second and third place winners are recognized on stage during the speech contest award ceremony for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.