Keeping dream alive Jersey City schoolchildren compete Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Finals

The finals of the city’s Thirteenth Annual Martin Luther King Oratory Contest took place on Feb. 21 at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. The event was sponsored by Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the Jersey City Municipal Council, the city’s Division of Cultural Affairs, and Bank of America.

Eleven Jersey City school students from grades 3 through 8 recited a writing of the legendary civil rights leader within a 10-minute timeframe.The students were split into two different grade groups: grades 3-5 with six finalists and grades 6-8 with five finalists. The top three winners in each grade group received trophies. The first-place winner also received a $500 savings bond; the second-place winner a $250 savings bond, and the third-place winner a $100 savings bond. The remaining five overall each received an honorable mention plaque along with a book of Martin Luther King’s writings.

The top three prizewinners in the grade 3-5 group were Juwan Jenkins, Public School 20, grade 5; Imani Dru Robinson, Public School 8, grade 5, and Ariella McLaughlin, Public School 11, grade 5. The runners up, also fifth grade students, were Vince Borbe, Public School 27; Gianelle Cepeda, Resurrection School, and Jalil Manigo, Public School 20.

The top three prizewinners in the grade 6-8 group were eighth graders Collins Mokaya, Sacred Heart School; Chinelo Onyebeke, St. Patrick’s School, and Kristian Gabot, also of Sacred Heart School. The runners-up were Kayla Gonzalez, Public School 27 Grade 7, and Navidra Hardin, St. Aloysius School, Grade 8.

The finals were judged by Tish Kraszyk, manager of the sales department for the Hudson Reporter newspapers; Jersey City Police Officer David Sanchez, and Cheryl DB Murphy, President of the Jersey City West Indian Carnival Committee. Comments on this story can be sent to


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