Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream was remembered, and his “I Have A Dream” speech recited by area school children Monday at the Community Center named in his honor.
Though the number of contestants was lower this year than usual, those who showed up were earnest and prepared.
Aniq Chunara, Collins Middle School student, took first place in the seventh/eighth grade division, with Derica Pipkin receiving second place. Chunara is a veteran “Dream” speech orator, competing in this event since he was old enough. He is now being followed by his sister, Sameeta Chunara, who tried her skills at the speech this year, and placed second in the fourth-sixth grade division.
Joshua Monroy, student at Drane Intermediate, took first in the fourth through sixth grade division, followed by Chunara. Kolby Kinkade received the third place slot with his first attempt. First place winners received $150, second $75, and third place winner took $50. Participants each receive $25.
Tabitha Bonner, Miss Juneteenth 2013, served as Mistress of Ceremony. Tamera White, winner of the contest in years past, introduced contestants. Between recitations of the speech, there were songs, poems, and performances by different groups, including Straightations from Straightway Baptist Church, the Praise group from Lifeline Church, and the singing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” accompanied by Mrs. Warner Redus on piano.
Larry Glass of the MLK Center board introduced Rebekah Arredondo, the new executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Navarro County. Arrendondo served as a judge for the contest, along with Thelma Thomas and Molly Sparks Walker.
Rowena Winfrey, president of the Navarro County chapter of NAACP, who sponsored the event, shared a few words in summation at the end.
“Don’t think this little Texas town doesn’t have talent ... these children are amazing,” Winfrey said. “And they’re our children, whether you gave birth to them or not. Let’s get back to the village mentality. It raised me.”
Winfrey mentioned that she’s been speaking in public for 50 years and her stomach was still doing flip flops, so she knew it took a lot of nerve and courage for the children to get up in front of such a large crowd and recite a long, complicated speech from memory.
“It takes courage to get up here, let’s support our kids and encourage them.”
In the absence of Elmeree Burrell, who was busy attending to her husband, George, who has been ailing, Darlene Jackson ran the Oratory Contest this year.
“I’m really pleased with how things went, and the young folks,” Jackson said. “Even our Mistress of Ceremony, as well as the students. And the people in general turned out to support us today, and they came and just offered to help.”
Announcements included reminders about the Gospel Extravaganza at IOOF Event Center Jan. 25, and the Heritage Rodeo on May 17 at the Navarro County Exposition Center.