MLK day speech CONTEST

live event!

JANUARY 18, 2021

"Be the best of whatever you are."

The Contest



Welcome to the 2021 Martin Luther King Day Speech Contest!  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation to advocate for change in part through his compelling and visionary public speeches. Today, more than ever, we need to continue to follow in his footsteps and use our voices to unite and move our communities forward.

The Thomas and Woods Foundation honored Dr. King once again by hosting the Third Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Speech Contest on January 18, 2021. This annual event empowers high school students to write and perform their very own speeches before a live panel of judges.  This year we gave out a total of $3,500 in scholarships to our top three speakers!

Check back in November 2021 for information on next year's contest!

2021 Winners

First place winner ($2,000 scholarship): Dwayne Campbell, G.W. Carver Eng'g & Science H.S.

Second place winner ($1,000 scholarship): Youma Diabira, Central High School

Third place winner ($500 scholarship): Dea Carter, G.W. Carver Eng'g & Science H.S.


Grace Chang, J.R. Masterman Lab. & Demons. High School

Dennis Chen, G.W. Carver Eng'g & Science High School

Malcolm Miller, J.R. Masterman Lab. & Demons. High School


Congratulations to all 12 of our high school students who performed at the live event! 

2021 Theme

Building Resilience in 2020: How has the resilience you’ve built in 2020 prepared you for the future?

For questions, email

"Always feel that your life has the ultimate significance."


We hosted the first Thomas and Woods Foundation Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Scholarship Contest in 2017 to give Philadelphia students the opportunity to share their views on our current political and social climate. Each student submitted an essay and then worked with a board member as a coach to turn their essays into speeches.


The contest was hosted at Martin Luther King High School on MLK Day, where over 50 people came to listen to these student's speeches. Each student was judged by local members from the community, including elected officials at the local and state level. Through the generous donations of our supporters and local organizations, we were able to award over $2,000 in scholarship money to the finalists. 

Since then, we have continued the tradition, and this year are proud to offer $3,500 in scholarship prizes to three students.

For questions regarding the contest, please email