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A 4th grader puts Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy into perspective with a powerful speech

MLK Oratory, Martin Luther King, Curtis Babers
Curtis Babers took home top prize at this year's contest. Photo by Kim Coffman
MLK Oratory, Martin Luther King, Curtis Babers
In his five-minute speech, he stressed the importance of education and community support. Photo by Kim Coffman
MLK Oratory, Martin Luther King, Curtis Babers
MLK Oratory, Martin Luther King, Curtis Babers
Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Christ
Get Directions - 500 Clay St. Houston

The 17th Annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory Competition wrapped up Friday at the historic Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Houston.

Beating out nearly 250 elementary students in the Houston Independent School District system, fourth-grader Curtis Babers took the top prize with a powerful five-minute speech addressing the contest's central question:

If you could talk directly to Dr. King about your dream for our future, what would you tell him?”

Sponsored and organized by Texas law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell, the oratory competition is mounted each year to pay tribute to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and extol the continued importance of his teachings.

Babers, a student at Lockhart Elementary, focused on the importance of obtaining an education, noting that civil rights leader himself earned a doctorate degree in theology at Boston University and used that knowledge to help reshape American race relations.

He stressed the important of communities that encourage and push for success, saying, “I can never reach my full potential, because I need my fellow neighbors.”

The second place prize was presented to fifth-grader Malcolm Taylor of Thompson Elementary, while third place went to Arriana Farrington, a fifth-grade student at Pleasantville Elementary. Each student received a monetary award, with $1,000 going to Babers.

Don't miss Curtis Babers' winning speech below:

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