Union Public Schools Student Wins 'I Have A Dream' Oratorical Contest

A Junior from Union Public Schools is taking home $1,000 for her performance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech. It's the 27th year students have been competing to memorize and recite the famous words.

Tuesday, January 9th 2024, 6:37 pm

By: Matt Rahn


A Junior from Union Public Schools is taking home $1,000 for her performance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech.

It's the 27th year students have been competing to memorize and recite the famous words.

It's been 60 years since Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial to deliver an unforgettable speech, and for one high school junior, those words live on today.

Word for word, Chiedza Mahuni recites a speech given decades ago.

"I wasn't feeling nervous at all. I mean, I was shaky, but I wasn't like, 'Oh, I'm gonna die,'" said Mahuni.

It's not common to hear the entire speech on TV or in movies, but Chiedza has every part memorized by heart, which is part of the reason judges chose her.

"I kind of have like a photographic memory. I kind of like take a photo of it and play it in my head while I say it and walking and talking, while I memorize, I walk and talk so I can be familiar with it," said Mahuni.

With each powerful phrase, she takes on a different demeanor, stepping back in time and into the shoes of Martin Luther King, a civil rights leader she didn't know much about.

"In Zimbabwe, where I'm from, I didn't really know much about civil rights, and the MLK Speech event helped me learn more firsthand."

For Chiedza, the speech means doing something you believe in no matter what the obstacles are.

"We should stand up for what we see is right."

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Society hosts this contest every year, and they even gave prize money away for 2nd and 3rd place.

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