2018 Black History Oratorical Fest Competition

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We are inviting students at elementary, middle and high schools to participate in this year’s Black History Oratorical Fest Competition. Selected students from each participating school will join the final competition that takes place on Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm at Longfellow Middle School Auditorium.

The competition is designed to give Berkeley public school students an opportunity to shine through public speaking. Students recite original speeches or poems, published speeches from a leader such as Toni Morrison, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, or other great leaders.  They can also perform a skit or spoken word, either individually or in a group. First, second, and third place winners from each division are selected by a panel of judges, and will receive prizes. Additionally, all participants will receive a certificate for entering the competition.

Schools have until Friday, February 9, 2018 to notify the Oratorical Fest Committee that they are participating the competition, and Friday, March 2, 2018 to identify student representatives. Students and families can contact the Family Engagement Liaison school sites if they are interested in participating in the competition.


  • Creative way for students to engage with Black History and each other
  • Builds community and sense of pride for all students
  • Motivates youth to be their best through competitive environment
  • Inspires creativity through the oral arts
  • Provides a platform to uplift Blackness

Presentations will be selected based on how students respect/honor Black History, and embody messages that inspire and uplift participants to continue toward progress; believing the impossible is possible. Remember: Black History is not just about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Strive to select oratory pieces that reflect the S.P.I.R.I.T. of the people throughout the African Diaspora:

S – Strength  P – Perseverance  I – Imagination  R – Responsibility  I – Integrity  T – Talent

Grade Level Divisions:

  • 3rd-5th grade
  • 6th-8th grade
  • 9th-12th grade


Individual Performer – 1 Performer on Stage

  • Poetry/Spoken Word – Published (3 min)
  • Poetry/Spoken Word – Original (performing poem/spoken word written by performing poet, 3 mins)
  • Speech – Famous & Not So Famous – (3 min)

Groups/Skits – Two or More Performers on Stage

  • Poetry/Spoken Word – Published (up to 5 min)
  • Poetry/Spoken Word – Original (written by the performing poets, (up to 5 min)
  • Speech – Famous & Not So Famous (up to 5 min)
  • Skit – Published & Devised (up to 5 min)

For full list of rules and rubrics, please see the attached document here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Family Engagement Specialist at your elementary school, staff in the Parent Resource Center at BHS, or Ann Callegari, Supervisor of the Office of Family Engagement and Equity at ofee@berkeley.net, or 510-644-8991.

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