Oratory Contest

Martin Luther King Memorial Cherry Blossoms Evening Washington

Application for the 7th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Oratorical & Spoken Word Contest
November 9th, 2017

The King’s Dream Committee would like to invite you to participate in its 7th Annual Oratorical and Spoken Word Contest honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The contest is open to all La Salle students as well as local High School Students.  The event will take place on Thursday, November 9th, 2017 tentatively from 5:00 pm to 6:15 p.m. the in La Salle Founders Hall (Business School) Auditorium, located on the first level.

Theme & Prompt:

Each year there is a Spoken Word, Oratory Contest that takes as its theme a quote from Dr. King.

The theme of this year is “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

The exact origin of this phrase is not known, though it is reported that it appeared in the book of the prophet Isaiah for the first time, but later Dr. Martin Luther King used it in his famous speech at a Spelman college rally in Sisters Chapel. He says;

Keep moving, for it may well be that the greatest song has not yet been sung, the greatest book has not been written, the highest mountain has not been climbed. This is your challenge! Reach out and grab it… but there is something we can learn from the broken grammar of that mother, that we must keep moving. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.”

With this theme in mind, we are inviting you to be part of the 6th Annual Spoken Word, Oratory Contest that will happen this year on Thursday, November 9, 2017 tentatively from 5-6:15pm.

Whether you are a freshmen, senior, grad student or just someone taking classes we challenge you to engage in dialogue about what we can do to make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in, we hope you will embrace it.  How does each of us leave La Salle University, Philadelphia, our home towns, our countries, our world better, more just, more equal because we have passed through?

Some of us will fly, some run, some walk and some crawl.  Some of us may only be able to stand still and support those who can fly, run, walk, or crawl.   But each of us will need to persevere, to keep at the struggle in order to move forward.

It is appropriate that the quote is one that was issued as a challenge to college students.  The words fly, run, walk, and crawl all have a sense of purpose, of perseverance, a call to not settle when option “A” doesn’t work but to try options B and C and D, if necessary. It is that sense of purpose that we wish to rekindle on our campus, but we also want to focus that purpose.  Dr. King helps us do that with another quote:

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” 

This sense of purpose, this perseverance is about the common good, the noble struggle for equal rights for all individuals.  On a campus that talks so much about social justice we must learn to not just talk but to crawl, to walk, to run and to fly when it comes to making a finer world to live in.

Share the dialogue, thoughts, dreams that you have in a speech or in spoken word with the rest of us, so that we can be inspired and challenged.

Those chosen will be invited to the November 9th event where finalist will be selected.  All selected pieces will be published on line for the community to read and reflect on.

This year’s winners will not only receive a cash prize, but all be asked to share their speeches, spoken word at the 7th Annual Interfaith Ceremony, January 15, 2018.

Application Guidelines:

We are allowing participants to submit an oratorical speech or a spoken word piece. All speeches or spoken word pieces must incorporate the theme and will be limited to four (4) minutes. Your submission can focus on today’s civil right movement, current events, and other social justice issues in the World, United States, or at La Salle University. Submissions may relate to Dr. King’s achievements and philosophy of non-violent opposition to social injustice, as well as other related issues, such as religion, race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation and ability.

If you wish to enter the Oratorical/Spoken Word Contest, please complete the application online before , 2017 THURSDAY, October 19th @ 9:00 AM.  For those selected from the paper screen, auditions dates will be October 26th, 2017 and October 27th, 2017.

GRAND PRIZE for Oratory and Spoken Word components

Please contact TiRease Holmes at holmest@lasalle.edu if you have additional questions about the application process or event.


  • 10/19/17 @ 9:00 am: APPLICATION DEADLINE
  • 10/23/17: Contestants moving on in the process invited to Audition
  • 10/26/17 & 10/27/17: Audition dates for those invited after paper screening
  • 11/9/17 @ 6:30 pm: MLK Oratorical and Spoken Word Contest