We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest (2020) - full transcript

Children perform poetry and speeches inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Coming to the stage,

"A Tribute to Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

Come on and take the stage!

Take the stage!

Good afternoon.
My name is Gregory Payton.

My name is Victoria Bowie.

- Tucker Eddy.
- Madeline Guevara.

Thank you for this
opportunity to be here...

And today, I will be performing
a speech that I wrote on my own.

And today, I will be performing
for you...

"Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou.

An original poem
called "Dr. MLK."

The Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want.

See, my black is beautiful,

from the top of my head,
to the tips of my toes.

"The time is always right
to do the right thing."

One inspirational quote,
but what does it really mean?

Does my black life
matter to the world

as it matters to my mother
and my father?

There's been a long list
of African-American women

who deserve to be recognized.

We fight today, we fight tomorrow.

But guess what?
That doesn't stop our sorrow.

Criminals! Animals!

That is what some people think
about immigrants and refugees,

but that is not who we are!
Immigrants are not criminals!

My generation will become
a generation that remembers

that although we have
different skin colors,

we still have the same color
of blood running through our veins.

It's time to stop discrimination!
It's time to stop violence!

It's time to stand up against hate!

'Cause I'm a woman, phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman, that's me.
Thank you.

Okay, you're on, begin.

Hi, my name is Gregory Payton.

- My principal is Ms. Zarina Ahmad...
- Okay, let's stop.

I want... You're not speaking in your
speaker voice, your orator voice.

I want you to use
your speaker voice.

Let's start again.
Take a deep breath.


- Good morning.
- Good morning.

- There you go.
- My name is Gregory Payton.

I am in the third grade.

I will be giving a tribute to the
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Lord is my shepherd.

- I shall not want.
- Yes.

He makes me to lie down
in green pastures.

I will be performing the last speech
that Dr. King gave,

"I've Been To The Mountaintop,"

and I kind of like did
a little addendum

where I would just be doing
the 23rd number of the Psalms,

and some of the words that
Dr. King said in his speech.

I've been practicing after school,
before school,

any time I get a chance.

Well, I don't know
what will happen now.

We've got some difficult days ahead,

but it really doesn't
matter with me now.

I just want to do Go...

- Because I've been to the mountaintop.
- Okay, we're gonna stop.

You're okay.
You're okay, you're fine.

I want you to relax,

and I want you to give it
that Gregory Payton power.

The Lord is my shepherd!

I shall not want.

He leads me!

Okay, let's go.
Let's start again.

As I was at school when I was
practicing it, my tutor, she said

"When you're in front of
an audience saying this speech,

"you're gonna be like
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

the way he said it."

You anoint my head with oil.

My cup runs over.

When you say, anoints my head with oil,
I want both hands going to the head.

- Do that with me.
- You anoint my head...

- With oil. My cup!
- ...with oil.

And I like the way you gave the
inflection when you said, "My cup!"

I want you to make your hands
give that same inflection.

Let's do it together.
Anoint my head with oil. My cup!

All right, let me have a bump.

- How do you feel? Good.
- Good.

And you're gonna have those
nervous butterflies, but that's okay.

When you feel that little tickling that
you get, you just keep speaking.

We are the fruits of Fruitvale!

Beautiful without fail!

Our roots run deep like
the Oaklandish tree!

The Martin Luther King Oratorical Fest
is like a deep tradition

that the entire city and the community
looks forward to.

"Freedom and equality,
that's all you need."

"These leaders did not give up."

Don't sit around and let all this
happen. Let's stand up together.

The festival is pre-K through 12.

We have somewhere between 800
to 1,200 students who participate.

You'll have poetry,
original and published.

You'll have speeches,
famous and not so famous.

You'll have monologues.

"Because the color my skin
come from way deep down within."

Every year, we participate in the
Martin Luther King Oratorical Fest.

I think it's really important for the
kids to learn more about him,

what he did, the power of his words,

but also just like
the power of their words,

to see how they can make
a difference also.

"For all people, for all races,

"for all our different
shapes and faces,

"for rich or poor, for high or low,

let's have freedom wherever we go."

You get to use your voice
and say what you think,

and it can inspire people,

and you get to shout out
what you feel inside.

We all to get compete and have fun.

If you win, you win.
If you lose, you lose.

But you're still happy
'cause at least you tried.

Stand up! Let's make a difference!

Barack Obama was the man!

Black men can be beautiful.
Black men can be strong.

Dr. Martin Luther King,
he wouldn't stop fighting for his dream.

He never gave up, so never give up
on your dreams either.

Check yourself,
before you open your mouth,

and decide whether its hate,
or peace you're all about.

First, you're performing
at your school,

and then, if you win,
you go to the regionals.

And then the third one
is the last one.

It's the finals, the district finals.

You have the power
to change the world too.

These are kids getting
in front of hundreds of people,

and it really gives
an opportunity for kids

who may not have their talent
highlighted in the classroom.

For some, we don't know if these are
gonna be future politicians or writers.

That's the whole purpose of education.

We're helping kids to discover
their own passions.

It's time to stand up against hate.

Well, I was not born here.
I was born in Sri Lanka.

Since last year, I heard about this
contest. I was like, "Who is Dr. King?"

First of all, I wanted to know that
because I just came to America.

I didn't know there was this problem
with people not being treated fairly.

So when I read more about him,
I knew more about him.

I was like, there's the competition in
two weeks. Why not just do one then?

Hey, Google.
Could you play happy birthday song?

Are you eight? Are you nine?

- Are you ten?
- Stop, stop, stop!

It's my birthday.
Today, it's my birthday.

My mom is like a very good mother.
She helps me whenever I need.

My dad, he's like the world's
best dad ever.

He's also like my mom, like, helps me,
like, whenever I need help.

Sometimes, his volume
is the same level.

That's why I tell him,

"With your volume,
up and down is best way."

- Calm down.
- Okay.

Hello, everyone.
My name is Karunyan Kamalraj,

from Franklin Elementary School.

Yes, when you hear the name
of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

you, and we all, think of a man
who fought segregation

and pursued equal rights
for black and white Americans.

- He know everything.
- Yes.

Every night, uh,
he asking many question,

you know, about my country,
my relations, my cultural.

I compared anti-black sentiment
in the United States

to my Tamil-speaking
minorities in Sri Lanka.

Since Sri Lanka's independence
from Britain in 1948,

civil war caused hundreds of
thousands of people were killed

and disappeared,
including my grandfather.

In the wartime, my dad arrested.

Until now, we don't know
what happened for my dad.

Yeah, it's almost... 20 years.

Right now, I think, if we had
a great leader like Dr. King,

we will have not lost
hundred thousands of our people.

If we had a leader
who did what Dr. King did,

we would've won equal rights for
the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka.

We'll need a leader who is not in love
with money but in love with justice,

and not in love with publicity, but
in love with humanity, like Dr. King.

Thank you so much.

Yeah, we tried those homework...
A lot of times, he spend for his speech,

a lot of times, he memorize
and polished every word.

And then I'm like, "Dad, like,
how could I memorize this?"

But then I just kept on practicing every
single line, and then I finally got it.

I always tell him, you need to tell
anything from your heart, yeah.

That's why it's expression...
more expression.

Anything you talk has come
from your heart.

Okay. What I would like to do
is to put you in formation today.

I'm gonna ask this front row
to stand up, just stand up,

and take a couple
of steps toward me.

I want you to spread out this way.

More... more.

Okay, now, feet together.

Hands flat and pressed
against your legs,

so that the fingers
don't start moving around.

If those fingers start moving
around, you should press harder.

Heads straight on your bodies,
very important.

Stand like soldiers.


The oratorical is just
like a stand and deliver,

and so it's very important
about the posture.

The posture is just as
important as the words.

Who are you?

Everybody says, "Black Panthers."

- Black Panthers!
- Looking straight ahead, please.

I want you to...
to scream it out harder.

Who are you?!

- Who are you?!
- Black Panthers!

Very good.

The oratorical, for me, is
an educational tool

because I usually try to pick
pieces that are going to teach

something about
African-American history.

In the '60s, we fought to get more
black history in the schools.

And over the years since then,

they have slowly picked out all
of the African-American history,

and there's nothing left in there
except Martin Luther King.

So, the oratorical is very powerful
in that

because it's a venue where they can
ask questions about black history

where they don't have that
opportunity in regular school

because those subjects
don't come up.

These times, there was
a lot of police brutality.

People couldn't get jobs.

A lot of people were
angry at the time.

And they were determined to accomplish
what they needed to accomplish

to make things better for everyone.

- What's your name, son?
- Martín.

Martín, turn around and
show them the face you just made.

We don't just want
to be angry inside.

We want to show
the angry on our faces.

Let me see some more angry faces.

- We got to rise up!
- We got to rise up!

- Angry faces.
- We got to rise up!

We got to rise up!

Good, very good. Okay.

On your judge's table, you will find
the order of performances.

There are four sheets.

Once we say, "Welcome to the 40th Annual
Martin Luther King Oratorical Festival,

please do not come talk
to the judges or ask questions.

We can't divulge scores.
And then you'll look to see...

What the judges are looking for

is the way you deliver it,
how you carry yourself.

I'm gonna be looking for spirit.

I'm gonna be looking for originality.

The judges aren't gonna
just want to see a robot.

- They're looking for talent.
- They're looking for confidence.

I'm looking for activism.
I'm looking for uplift.

- And they're looking for...
- And they're looking for movement.

- They're not looking for...
- They're not looking for craziness.

I think the judges are looking for...

I'm not exactly sure,
but I think they're looking for, um...

like, the way... Actually, I'm not sure
what they look for.

It's where they're allowed
to be who they are,

to get up there,
no matter how scared they are,

and perform in front of their peers

and people they don't know
and adults and kids,

and, um, it's just always...

a warm spot in my heart

every time I'm here to see
what they produce.

Okay, three, two, one.

May peace be upon you.

- My name is Lamiya Mohammed,
- My name is Abrar Mohammed,

and today, we will be presenting to you
a poem entitled, "Freedom."

Let's begin.

They sell us freedom,
and we buy their chains.

We think we become free,
but it all remains the same.

They game never changed.
In fact, the chains are getting tighter

because covering up is not okay?

They tell me that I'm free,
so I shouldn't dress this way?

The reason I did this poem was

I was told that America
was the place

where people came to be free.

And now people want to ban
other races from it.

I didn't like it, not a bit.

I thought that us Muslims
should be welcome here, too.

If they should stay, we should too.

You believe in every word they tell you,
then turn around and you see me.

Oh, wait.
You don't actually see me.

You see my hijabi...

We shouldn't be treated differently
because of what we look like.

I wear a scarf,
and I wear it at school too.

I've never gotten bullied for it.

But when I go out,
I've seen people give looks.

For example, once, we went to vacation
at Pismo Beach,

and this random guy yelled out at
my mom, saying that she has a bomb.

And that's not the thought
that hurt my mom's feelings.

What hurt her was that
nobody else stood up for her.

I just want my sisters
to feel happy and my family.

And I don't want people to tell
my mom that she has a bomb.

And I just want to feel happy.

I come in peace, really.

There's no need to disrespect me.

I wear what I wear freely,
so could you please just let me.

All these opinions,
bans and restrictions,

are really, really starting
to get to me.

So, here's what we've got to do

in order for everyone to be happy
and free, including me.

I like the way she does it.

I like the way she pronounces
everything. It's adorable.

Well, my note would be more emotion,
then when it comes to

"That's not fair," that part,

to have more sass, 'cause
I know that she's good with that.

Throughout history, there has been
a long list of African-American women

who deserve to be recognized.

Look me in my face,
you'll see I tell no lies.

Just wait till I start naming names.

Tell me what you know
about Bessie Coleman, the first Afri...

- Oh, man. I messed up.
- No, you did good, babe.

I said Bessie Coleman, I meant to say
Dr. Mae Jemison.

Girl, nobody's gonna know that.
You wrote this, they don't know.

- You just keep on going.
- By the way, you're rocking it.

- So, thank you.
- You sure are.

I'm enjoying this so much.
I can't wait to hear it.

If you want to start from the beginning,
go for it.

- But you are rocking it.
- And you've been there...

When I was in second grade,
I did a oratorical

and I won, so I thought...

It took a long time for me
to get to since my first time.

But I did really good,
so that's when I was like...

I had confidence in myself
every other time I did it.

So, that's why
I like doing oratoricals.

- Black girl magic.
- That's your thing.

- Should I start over?
- Yes, start over, sweetie.

So, what you know
about Serena and Venus,

Angela Davis, and Nina Simone?

Black girl magic and this list goes on.

And don't forget about Madam CJ Walker.
She invented the hot comb.

So, to all my girls out there,
even though there may be obstacles,

just remember this list because
these women did the impossible.


Are you performing by yourself?

And he's allowed me to go up
to the mountaintop.

And I've looked over
and I've seen the Promised Land.

We must fight. Yes, fight, through
all this criticism and racism.

That's the most important thing,
we must fight with love, yes, love!

What if Dr. Martin Luther King's
"I Have A Dream" speech

was uploaded on YouTube and shared with
millions of people across the world?

My name is Madeline Guevara.

I'm from La Escuelita
Elementary School,

and the title of my poem is
"En Mis Sueños,"

by Francisco Alarcón.

Buffaloes roam free
once again on the plains.

Whales become opera singers
of the sea...

I was kind of nervous,

but I just took a deep breath,
and did my poem.

That's how I relaxed.

Mo'Ney, blow out the candle next time.
Inhale one,

two, three, four...

Are you nervous?

- Nervous.
- Nervous.

And I was a little nervous.

I'm really nervous about this.

I'm really not that nervous.

There's gonna be a lot of people.

There's chairs up there,
chairs right here.

There's gonna be a lot of people,
that's a big stage.

Martin Luther King
was like you and me,

and he had many dreams.

He tried to reach the stars
because he knew he would succeed.

Injustice anywhere is
a threat everywhere.

Our lives begin to end

the day we become we silent
about the things that matter.

- We've got to!
- We've got to!

Put a stop to the violence
that will destroy our neighborhood!

Destroy our neighborhood!

We are the fruits of Fruitvale,

beautiful without fail.

Our roots run deep like
the Oaklandish tree.

Stop separating families.
Stop trying to silence immigrants.

Immigrants and refugees are humans,
people just like you and me.

Yes, when you hear the name
of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

you, and we all, think of a man
who fought segregation

and pursued equal rights
for black and white Americans.

They sell us freedom,
and we buy their chains.

We think we become free,
but it all remains the same.

The game never changed.
In fact, the chains are getting tighter,

because covering up is not okay?

They tell me that I'm free,
so I shouldn't dress this way?

Today, my friends,
we still have work to do,

mountains to climb,
obstacles to overcome.

We cannot stop striving.

Stand like that.

Okay... Got you. Good.

You ready? Come on in.

I have to get my energy up
so I can be loud and clear,

and I gotta be serious with it also.

Tell me what you know
about Bessie Coleman,

the first African-American woman
to receive her pilot license.

So, you might look fly,
but she was really flying.

And I know you know
about Oprah Winfrey.

She was on your grandma's TV!

Like, you know
the words... by heart.

You know how to say it clearly
and loud so everyone can hear,

and you don't say it too fast.

Everybody really wants us to win.

We want to win
the competition ourselves.

Well, I just feel like
we did a really good job.

I feel very confident that I'm gonna
get at least second or first.

We're waiting for the trophy
and to see like who's gonna win,

'cause it's been increasing
the suspense all day.

First place,
Crocker Highland Elementary,

"ABC's of Life," Myles Staples.

Abrar Mohammad.

Daddy's here!

Feels good.

First place! We won first!

I mean,
I'm proud of them either way.

And I was, like, shocked when they
were up there, but they did well.

- Next week, we're at the finals!
- Next week, we're going to the finals.

We still continue rehearsing
for the finals. We try to improve.

These girls are some of the shyest
girls I've ever had in life.

- Oh! That is... a blessing.
- Aw!

Oakland is a really diverse town.

This is a black, brown,
and immigrant city.

It's always embraced
activists, artists,

and folks who... struggle to get by.

The history of this place and the
history of the various communities

that have called this
place home is incredible.

And just the different intersections,
like, if you go downtown,

you can really walk
through Chinatown,

you know, you see
the farmer's market,

and you keep walking,
going over to like Fruitvale.

It's probably a long walk, but then
you got our Latinx communities.

And it's really beautiful to get
to know the peoples of this place,

and how that proximity to each other
makes such a really beautiful experience

and just some really
wonderful thinkers.

Oakland, as a city, is known for

its social justice movements
and activism.

And when people hear Oakland, they
think Black Panthers immediately.

The goals of the
Black Panthers were to give

African-Americans, at the time,
some sense of hope,

and to do something
in the community.

The kids here might have
heard of the Black Panthers,

but they don't always know
that they started in Oakland,

and this gives them
a whole nother sense of pride.

I want everybody focused
on what they're doing.

Go up there, get in place,
and turn around ready to listen.

- Ready?
- Yes.

One. Don't run. You don't have
to run, I count slow.

Two. Going on the stage.


I forgot to count it was so nice.

These kids have come a long way.

I find that they really love doing this.

They're very respectful
and well-behaved,

and I think it's because they
really enjoy what we're doing.

And when you get lined up, no leaning
against a wall, waiting to start.

As soon as you get in line,
everybody's facing forward, ready to go.

Let's not go up here in our voices.

Always speak from the diaphragm.

Remember, quick with the moves.
"We've got to!"

- Let me hear it.
- We've got to!

Yes. It looks like everybody's
focusing on... stomping.

You don't have to stomp.


Forward march!

In the 1960s!

In the 1960s!

Police brutality!

Police brutality!

In the black community!

In the black community!

Was the source!

Was the source!

Of mounting conflict!

Of mounting conflict!

We did four minutes and 45 seconds.

It's a little close.
It's a little close.

Let's see if we can run it a little
faster, okay? And beat that time.

Son, I've been meaning
to tell you for a while now,

you can't play with those words like,
"In the 1960s!"

No, no, no, no, no.

Brutality was the other
one you played with. "Brutality!"

Are you singing a song?

In the 1960s!

In the 1960s!

Police brutality!

Police brutality!

We are opposed to violence!

Opposed to violence!

Opposed to war!

Opposed to war!

- Who are you?
- Black Panthers!

- Who are you?!
- Black Panthers!

All right, you guys did good. You didn't
go over, so you still would win.

You still can win, but if you go over,
it's out of the question.

I'm really proud of them.
I think the more history they learned

and how we got where we are,
makes them a little more positive

about what can happen in the future.

At least some changes
have been made and documented

that shows that things can change,

and whatever problems we see today,

there's hope that that can be worked out
in time, and it's not hopeless.

Criminals. Animals.

- That is not who we are.
- All right.

My hope is that my students
see the power of their voice,

and that they know that
they can make a difference.

This is the first time they've
been invited to the finals,

and I think it made a difference
that like, the poem from them,

from their own words
and their own feelings.

Our parents are hard workers.

They have jobs,
sometimes more than one.

They work long hours
to support their families.

Immigrants are people with values,

patience, respect,
responsibility, empathy.

America never was America to me.

There was one group who did Langston
Hughes's, uh, uh, "America..."

- "What is America to Me?"
- "What is America to Me?"

And yet I swear this oath.

America will be!

I came across this poem,
and I think just the refrain of

"Let America Be America Again"
was really powerful.

You know, it was kind of like
a reclaiming of making America

something that we want it to be.

So, it's really exciting to see them
take ownership of the poem.

Oh, let America
be America again!

The land that never has been yet,
and yet must be...

The time is now to say
whatever it is that we're feeling.

Walking into this oratory fest made me

way more hopeful
about just change coming.

We are at the Greater St.
John Missionary Baptist Church.

My grandfather is
the Rev. Gregory B. Payton.

We are right now in our Youth and Tots
Center, celebrating Black History Month.

Today, I'm gonna be doing the welcome.

My welcome is just greeting everybody
with a warm-hearted welcome,

just to make sure
they feel comfortable,

to let them know
they're in the right place.

- Good morning.
- Good morning.

- Good morning!
- Good morning!

Our God is great
and greatly to be praised.

- Amen!
- Welcome to the Greater St. John...

Gregory is
very fond of public speaking.

He's a very spiritual young man,
at an early age. Um...

He loves church
and he loves preachers.

You are welcome, welcome, welcome.
Thank you.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was
a prolific preacher.

He was a spiritual shepherd.

Dr. King believed in peace
and, uh, not harm.

He didn't want to harm
any person through his life.

Even though somebody
did harm him, no...

he wouldn't harm them.

He spoke the word of truth,
and what he said, he meant it, like...

when he said,
"Well, I don't know about...

"Well, I don't know what's gonna happen
now. We have some difficult days ahead."

Well, I don't know what will happen now.

We've got some difficult days ahead.

But it really doesn't
matter with me now,

because I've been
to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

The part that touched
me so much is when he said,

the Lord led him to the mountaintop
to see the Promised Land.

And it really didn't
matter with him now

'cause they still were
going to have difficult days,

like the day after that speech
when he got assassinated.

And he has allowed me
to go up to the mountain,

and I've looked over,

and I've seen

the Promised Land.

"I may not get there with you,
but I want you to know tonight

"that we as a people will get
to the Promised Land."

That we as a people will
get to the Promised Land!

Those words are so heart-touching,
and things like that.

They're so powerful.

His words, I don't know
about anybody else,

but his words are still alive in me,

and I will always
remember those words.

However young you are,

you have a responsibility
to seek to make

your nation a better nation
in which to live.

Dr. Martin Luther King,
he made a legacy.

I may not be known. I may just be
another kid in this world,

but at the same time,
I feel like I am somebody.

So, because of that, I feel
like I have to give my best.

I feel like...
I'm doing this for him.

And I want to say to everybody
under the sound of my voice

this afternoon
that you are somebody.

Don't let anybody make you feel
that you are nobody.

VDr. Martin Luther King was a freedom
fighter by using his words.

He was able to change a nation
by being able to just speak,

and I feel that it empowers
the students to have a voice.

Lifting up student voices, it is a part
of fulfilling Dr. King's dream

of the power of oration,
the power of the word,

to create social change.

That's how we're gonna create
a better world for all.

Just last year, two black men
were arrested in Starbucks

after just waiting for a friend.

This led to 300,000
views on YouTube,

and anti-bias training at all
of their Starbucks stores.

Social media,
if used the correct way,

could be a positive and powerful vehicle
for social change and justice.

Why do people feel the need
to use such a powerful tool

to bully, change elections, or separate
people within this country?

That was good,
but make sure we get a pace.

I think you're going a little fast, and
then there's those little inflections

where you really want to let it resonate

with the people that this
is, this is powerful.

My father educates me a lot
about what's going on in this world.

And he tells me some life lessons,

some things I should be careful of,

and he gives me a lot
of tips and tricks.

What I've noticed is
some of the young kids,

they might not really understand
what you're saying...

- So the movements help develop the idea.
- They understand the visual.

Exactly. You bring those both

There are times where we'll see
something on TV

and the kids will see it, and a lot
of times, they don't ask any questions,

but this time, they were
both asking questions.

Some people are calling for a boycott
of Starbucks after seeing this video

of two black men being arrested
at a Philadelphia location.

Essentially, it was two African-American
men, I believe it was in Philadelphia,

sat down and they were waiting
for a colleague for a meeting.

Uh, they didn't order anything, and
one of the other people in Starbucks

said that they felt uncomfortable.

So, the manager asked them to leave.

There was no reason
for them to leave other than

the fact that they were black,
that was the only reason.

I think for our family,
it really kind of hit home

because those are things that we do.
I travel sometimes for work and...

- You go to Starbucks.
- I go to Starbucks,

and, you know, those things
could happen to me.

So, when that hit here,
I think it was important

for Donovan to say
something about that.

- To really understand what was going on in our world.
- Absolutely.

What if we cared more about gun laws

than we did about
how many followers we have?

What if we talk to each other instead
of comment rude things about others?

What if we built each other up
instead of tear each other down?

Well, I just make sure
that he understands

that there are different situations
that he's gonna be treated

than his white friends.

That's just the way
things are right now.

Um, and I always tell him there
are certain things he won't get,

and one of them is
the benefit of the doubt.

If you're raising an African-American
boy in this country,

you have to raise him a different way,
'cause there are certain things

that he's gonna have to confront
that other folks don't.

I want to protect you
as long as I can from it,

but when it happens, I want to make sure
you've got the tools to cope with it.

I would describe my dad
as strong, independent, brave.

I don't think we look alike,
but I know we act alike.

- Time to stand up?
- You want to stand up?

You can sit down, do it sitting there.

Close your eyes,
act like you're on stage.

It's just you.
There's nobody else there.

Hi. My name is Lovely Hudson,

and I'm gonna be
reciting a poem called

"What You Know About,"
written by me.

I'm listening.

She has the
confidence and she has the courage.

I tell her that's the big thing
is having your courage.

So, even with her,
like, we'll be at the...

I go to my clothing store
or I go to my barbershop...

"Lovely, do your poem."

And I just want her to get adjusted
to doing it in front of people.

When I say you gotta get into your
your happy face, like you're happy.

"Oh, it's beautiful outside..."

And we were just talking
about that today.

"The birds, the trees!"

And then you got to get... when
you're saying something serious,

you got to push the button
to something serious.

Make it your happy face.
See a happy face.

Sad face. Mad face?

- I can't do a mad face, that's hard.
- See, you got to know to switch it up.

'Cause like a lot of times,
it's not what you say, it's...

- How you say it.
- Good job. There you go.

Go ahead, jump. This way.

- Ooh, I'm taller than everybody.
- That's okay. You ready?

Now, close your eyes and just think.
Visualize it.

Be loud, but don't yell.
Slow down, take your time. You got it.

- Go.
- Hi. My name is Lovely Hudson...

My passion is seeing
her doing what she does.

When they say
unconditional love,

that's why I know it's unconditional
love 'cause I just want to see...

I just get so excited
watching her perform.

Black girl magic,
and this list goes on.

And don't forget
about Madam CJ Walker.

She invented the hot comb.

I think important for her is getting up
there and just trying your best,

and just doing it.

You only lose when you don't try.
If you try, you're not losing.

Even if she went up there and she
came in third or whatever she did,

if I'm looking at her and I see,
and I say, "I know you did...

what we practiced, and I know
you did your all," that's satisfying.

Good job.
Fall! Fall! Fall! Fall!

Good job, babe.

There's something that happens
after they've been practicing for weeks.

By the time they get to the finals,
it's really something.

And then when they make it,
there's just nothing like it.

There's just...
just nothing like it.

For them to realize,
"Wow. I worked hard,

and I got rewarded," you know?

It's just priceless.


It's the finals, and
we're just gonna be competing

to get first place,
so we can get a medal.

Yeah, I'm ready.
Like I said, I'm confident.

Excited. This is actually my first time
hearing about oratorical.

It's kind of challenging because we have
a lot of other great opponents.

My throat, it was
hurting this morning,

and I was afraid that my voice
wouldn't be loud enough.

I felt like the journey
was a bumpy road,

but today, we finally
made it to the finish line.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for supporting
our 40th Annual Oratorical Festival.

Are you guys excited? I'm excited.
Yes? Okay.

We'll start with pre-K through two.
Solo performers, no?

All right!

And she'll introduce herself.
Come on up.

Good afternoon...

Good afternoon.
My name is Madeline Guevara.

I'm from La Escuelita, and the title
of my poem is, "En Mis Sueños."

"In My Dreams."

Buffaloes roam free
once again on the plains.

All humans and all living beings

Come together as one big family
of the Earth.

Thank you.

We stand together united.
This is our chance to repay this debt.

We are a land of immigrants,
yet we push immigrants like us away.

It was fun because a lot of people
were watching us

and they were
thinking that we were good.

We've got to move!

We've got to move!

As Dr. King said,

"We may have all come
from different ships,

but we're all
in the same boat now."

And that's why it's always the
right time to do the right thing.

Because in the end, we'll remember

- not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends. -

I felt like gravity was
just pushing me down.

But I feel better.

You think I don't care
about this country?

I love this country, even though,
at times, it doesn't love me back.

Ah, well, my daughter is amazing.

I am so proud of this baby girl.

You make us bleed,
and we have to plead.

I feel like I did a good job, but then
it's like what did the judges think?

Today, we are ready as vibrant,
beautiful girls, full of potential!

And tomorrow, we'll be vibrant,
beautiful women, full of potential!

About to take the stage,

"To Walk in the Way of Dr.
King." Let's show some love.

Today is one of
the greatest day in my life

because I have another
chance to think about

one of the greatest people
in my life and in the world.

Yes, when you hear the name
of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

you, and we all, think of a man
who fought segregation

and pursued equal rights
for black and white Americans.

He is the man who changed the
history of the United States.

He is the man who changed
the mind of many Americans.

He is the man who cultivated
seeds of love in everyone's heart.

About to take the stage,
Joaquin Miller School. "What If."

Social media,
if used the correct way,

can be a positive and powerful vehicle
for social change and justice.

What if we cared more about gun laws

than we did about how
many followers we had?

What if we built each other up
instead of tear each other down?

Lovely, are you in the house?

All right. Come on and take
the stage, Miss Lovely.

All these black women stepped up
and changed the game!

We have billionaires, athletes,
musicians, astronauts, and pilots,

and that's just to name a few!

So, you can't tell me black women
are not intelligent,

powerful, innovative,
and beautiful, too!

So, to all my girls out there,
even though there may be obstacles,

just remember this list 'cause
these women did the impossible!

Thank you, Lovely.

So, what's the most
powerful weapon we have?

Yes, the power of our pens,
our books, our creative minds,

and critical thinking
working together.

So, Piedmont Avenue...

..."A Tribute to Rev.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

Are you ready, Gregory?
Come on and take the stage.

Take the stage!

Good afternoon.
My name is Gregory Payton.

I will be reciting a tribute
to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,

compiled by Zerita Sharp.

The Lord is my shepherd!
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down
in green pastures.

He leads me
besides the still waters!

He restores my soul!

He leads me in the paths
of righteousness for his namesake!

Yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death,

down in Alabama,
with its vicious racists,

with its governor having his lips

dripping with the words
of interposition and nullification!

I will fear no evil
for you are with me.

Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me,

in the presence
of my enemies!

You anoint my head with oil.

My cup runs over!

Well, I don't know
what will happen now.

We've got some difficult days ahead.

But it really doesn't
matter with me now

because I've been
to the mountaintop!

And I don't mind. Like anybody,
I would like to live a long life.

Longevity has its place,

but I'm not concerned about that now.
I just want to do God's will.

And he's allowed me to go up
to the mountaintop.

And I've looked over, and
I've seen the Promised Land!

I may not get there with you,
but I want you to know tonight

that we as a people
will get to the Promised Land.

All right.

So, I'm happy tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord.

Surely, goodness
and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life!

And I...
will dwell in the house

of the Lord forever! Thank you.

What you saw was him taking
that linguistic tradition

that came across
with African people.

That you heard in his voice,
that lilting cadence,

that lifting
that comes only from internalizing.

It's a gift from the ancestors.

You can speak, and
he articulated well. He did all of that.

But he brought more than that.

He brought what you hear
in the African community.

In the diaspora, and today,

the diaspora in
Oakland, California, spoke

with the blessing of the ancestors.

So, I... I mean, I just had
to get up and walk.

I just could not contain myself.

This was just... I just...
I just... I just...

What can I say?

So, the moment we've
all been waiting for.

You guys ready?

We'll start with the category
of published poetry.

So, pre-K through two.

First place, La Escuelita,
"En Mis Sueños."

La Escuelita, are you still here?

Yes, come on down!


Third through fifth grade...

Second place.
Fifteen performers.

Third through fifth grade, published
poetry, Aspire College Academy,

"Phenomenal Woman," first place.

All right!


Third to fifth grade speeches.

"What If," Joaquin Miller
School, first place.

Original poetry, third through fifth
grade, Bridges Academy at Melrose.

Second place.

Markham, "The Black Panthers."
First place.

I was so excited. I was like,
please give me first place.

I just... came here, and I was like,
oh my God, I did it!

Carl B. Munck,
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Second place.

I would have to say
I was crushed.

It was heart-breaking.

We were so happy when we
got first place in the semi-finals,

and then once we got
second place in the finals,

we just sank.

We thought we were good
as last time, and the time before,

but I guess the judges
didn't think that.


Lovely Hudson,
"What You Know About."

First place.
All right, Lovely!

"The Fruits of Fruitvale."
Second place.

"A Tribute to Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr."

Gregory, first place.

Go, Johnny!

Come on, here we go.
Oh, that is such an amazing photo.

It's amazing
what's coming out of

the hearts and minds
of young people today.

They're profound and they're
intelligent, and they have a vision,

and given the opportunity
to share and to listen,

there's so much to learn.

Somebody said that no revolution
is complete without its poets.

The large part of
social movements is art,

and imagining new
just possibilities.

The power of the word is all
you need is a pen and pencil,

and a circle to share it,
and that's where the magic happens.

Tired, hungry,
but it's well worth it.

Seeing her smile and, you know,
just onto the next year.

New material and just do it again.