Marion Barry Youth Oratorical Contest

The Marion Barry Youth Oratorical Contest is designed to highlight the life, work and contributions of the Honorable Marion Barry, Jr., a dedicated, committed, and compassionate people servant and civil rights leader.  As a platform for public discourse and expressions of the impact Barry’s life and legacy had on Washington, DC and the larger society, the contest-specific objectives are:

  • To provide a public forum for young people to learn about, discuss, and express their perspective of the life and influence of Marion Barry, Jr. through written and oral communications.
  • To encourage scholarly study and investigations into a deeper knowledge and understanding of the many facets of Marion Barry, Jr. and how his work and contributions have inspired and will inspire upcoming generations.
  • To provide an opportunity for young participants to express their well-thought knowledge and perspective in an atmosphere of competitive public speaking; and
  • To offer an opportunity for students to compete for scholarship awards that will assist students in pursuing their educational aspirations.

Contest Structure and Participation

The two-part contest includes essay and oratory. Participants are invited to submit an 800 to 1,200-word essay that will be judged according to the guidelines.

Theme “The Ballot Box: Marion Barry’s Legacy on the Right to Vote as A Vehicle for Change.” 

Finalists will deliver their essays, thoughts, and analysis at the Oratorical contest. Writing and public speaking workshops will be conducted to support the contestants. Participation in the workshops is mandatory.

Eligibility Criteria

Participants must be a DC youth resident attending a DC public, private or charter high school (grades 9 – 12). If selected as a finalist, the participants must be available to deliver their speech at the Oratorical contest.

Contest Prizes and Recognition

All participants will receive a certificate of recognition. Six (6) essay finalists will proceed to the Oratorical contest. The following awards will be given:

  • 1st Place   – $1,000 Educational Resource Incentive Grant/Trophy
  • 2nd Place  – $750 Educational Resource Incentive Grant/Trophy
  • 3rd Place   – $500 Educational Resource Incentive Grant/Trophy

Participants will be considered for speaking opportunities at public events and programs throughout the year.

To download the Contest Overview and Guidelines, click here.

To complete the Application of Interest by Wednesday, February 7, click here



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