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Elementary School Students Express Dreams Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competitions Honor the Late
Civil Rights Leader This MLK Holiday

In honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 20 elementary school
students gathered to express their dreams for today's world during the
Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competitions in Dallas and Houston.
Winners included Wesley Stoker, a fourth-grade student from Harry C.
Withers Elementary in Dallas, and Tchanori Kone, a fifth-grader from
Gregory-Lincoln Elementary in Houston.

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Tchanori Kone, a fifth-grade student from Gregory-Lincoln Elementary, won first place in the 22nd An ...

Tchanori Kone, a fifth-grade student from Gregory-Lincoln Elementary, won first place in the 22nd Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition in Houston with a captivating speech titled "Making the Dream Come True." She shared that her dream for today's world is to "eliminate poverty," and she hopes one day that "every human being will have fair and equal access to education and health care." (Photo credit: Katy Anderson)

Finalists were selected from more than 300 fourth- and fifth-grade
students representing nearly 40 schools from the Dallas and Houston
Independent School Districts. The competitions began with in-school
qualifying rounds in the fall, and one student from each school was
selected to advance to the semifinals. From there, eight students from
Dallas and 12 from Houston were selected to advance to the final
competitions Jan. 12.

Participants presented original three-to-five minute speeches addressing
the question, "What is your dream for today's world?" which both commemorated
Dr. King's iconic speech and encouraged children to showcase their
knowledge of current events. During all three levels of the competition,
students were evaluated on delivery, stage presence and decorum, content
interpretation, and memorization. At the finals, panels of locally
renowned community and business leaders judged the students on their

"I want to commend the students on their knowledge of Dr. King's impact
and the talent they displayed today. They delivered well-crafted,
emotional and insightful speeches that impressed the entire audience and
judges," said Gardere Chair Holland N. O'Neil. "Gardere is honored to
partner with the Dallas and Houston ISDs each year to provide these
bright and articulate students a competitive platform that showcases
their exceptional talents."

Dallas's first-place winner, Wesley Stoker, delivered a speech he says
was inspired by his father, who is the senior minister at First United
Methodist Church of Dallas. "Dr. King was a minister's son, and I am a
minister's son, as well. I can only imagine he went to church a lot,"
joked Wesley. His
incorporated his own dreams, routed in Dr. King's
philosophies. "I wish we would all be friends with our neighbors and see
that we have more in common than we think."

Wesley emphasized each of his hopes by repeating, "I may not look
like Dr. King, but I believe like Dr. King." He ended by
encouraging the audience, "Like me, you don't look like Dr. King. But
like me, you have the choice to believe like Dr. King. We can
believe in equality, love for our neighbor, world peace among all
nations and races, but it takes you and me to work together."

Skye Turner, a fourth-grader at Charles Rice Learning Center, earned
second place in the Dallas competition, and Jeremiah Wilson, a
fourth-grader at Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary School, was awarded third

Houston's first-place winner, fifth-grade student Tchanori Kone, titled her
"Making the Dream Come True," and shared that her dream for
today's world is to "eliminate poverty." Tchanori hopes one day that
"every human being will have fair and equal access to education and
health care."

The 10-year-old reminded the audience of the Poor People's March on
Washington, led by Dr. King and his efforts to draw government attention
to poverty in America. Kone concluded that we should follow in Dr.
King's footsteps and bring government attention to these issues by
voting into office "sincere, caring people who are committed to helping
their communities."

Caleb Kiteka, a fifth-grade student from Windsor Village Elementary,
placed second in the Houston competition, while former MLK Oratory
Competition winner, and now fifth-grader, Nhedrick Jabier of Crespo
Elementary took home third place.

"The energy these students exhibited today was remarkable, exciting to
watch and very inspiring," said Gardere CEO Claude Treece. "I've been
chairing this event in Houston since its inception 22 years ago, and I'm
still amazed by the talent, insight, and creativity the participants
display each year."

Established in Dallas in 1993 by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, the Annual
Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition is hosted in conjunction with Martin
Luther King Jr. Day to encourage the community to remember and pay
tribute to the late civil rights leader's legacy. Gardere introduced the
event to encourage students to learn more about Dr. King and to help
cultivate the writing and speaking skills of elementary school students.
The event's success in Dallas led to the establishment of the
competition in Houston in 1997.

To watch the winning speeches and to learn more about the Annual Gardere
MLK Jr. Oratory Competitions, click here.


Wynne Sewell LLP
, an Am Law 200 firm founded in 1909 and one of the
Southwest's largest full-service law firms, has offices in Austin,
Dallas, Denver, Houston and Mexico City. Gardere provides legal services
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Photographs Available Upon Request

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