Honoring Dr. King by Changing the World, One Voice at a Time
Student speakers urged love, tolerance, commitment, and action at the King Day Youth Oratorical Contest on Monday during the community observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. They also spoke of optimism as they reflected on the theme, “What the World Needs Now…”
Applause interrupted speaker after speaker. Norman Jones, senior at Stonewall Jackson High School, repeated his previous success as winner of the “best before the audience” award, and Abdullah Usufzai, seventh-grader at Ronald Reagan Middle School, won this award at the middle school level. Jones also won the “best before the judges” award, as did Jennine Faruque, Stonewall Middle School, at the regional face-off.
Abdullah Usufzai challenged the audience not to be afraid of people who look different. “Every generation has its curse, but it also has its legacy,” said Usufzai, “I believe that together we can, and we will, make understanding and love our legacy….Taking the right path is not always an easy decision, but I have faith. And faith is taking the first step.”
Norman Jones believes it is important that people know that great leaders of the past spoke of the [same] issues facing us today. “What the world needs now,“ said Jones, “is you. Find confidence in yourself, and the courage to act…Confidence allows us to turn our opposition into opportunity. ..Keep your courage, stand up for justice, and take the initiative to act...,” Jones said.
Students from Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park schools competed at the school and regional level. Six finalists, three from middle schools and three from high schools spoke at the King Day event.
PWCS student winners of the writing contest for elementary students were: First place, Makenna Howell, Porter Traditional School, fifth grade; second place, Sahiti Shastri, Mountain View Elemenary, fifth grade; second place, Adalyn Wood, Victory Elementary School, fourth grade.
The event was hosted by Prince William Alumni Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
See video below for excerpts of speeches by Norman Jones and Abdullah Usufzai.