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Zion Fozo of Potomac High School student delivered her original speech at the 30th annual Martin Luther King Jr. oratorical program at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in 2020. The 2021 event will be virtual and broadcast on YouTube.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping the Prince William County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. from holding its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Youth Oratorical Program for middle and high school students this year.

The chapter will host the 31st annual version of its event on Dr. Martin Luther King Day – Monday, Jan. 18 – at 11 a.m. on YouTube. And the Rev. Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, will join as a special guest.

The program’s new committee chair, Sheila Mitchell, was determined not to allow the pandemic to be an impediment to producing the event, which showcases the talents of students in the Prince William community.

“Pivoting to a virtual production certainly presents its challenges, but it also provides opportunities,” she said. “For example, our potential audience moves well beyond Prince William County and the DMV. Plus, virtual attendance provided our special guest, Rev. Al Sharpton, the flexibility to say ‘yes.’”

The chapter said that this year’s theme, “Beyond the Dream – Young Voices with Something to Say,” was chosen because it continually prioritizes the voices of local youth with the annual competition.

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The MLK Community Choir will perform – virtually – a selection of songs in memory of the late Congressman John Lewis.

Over the past 30 years, the program’s youth orators have amazed and inspired large audiences with thoughtful ideas, impactful delivery and a clear vision and call to action, said Sharon McCarthy Andrews, chapter president.

“The 31st year will be a continuation of this spirit of excellence and its virtual nature will broaden the audience that is able to celebrate Dr. King with us,” she added. “We can also engage the audience with a new voting feature.”

Audience members will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite orator with a new text-to-vote feature.

Last year’s high school winner was Zion Fozo of Potomac High School, who spoke about the theme, “Let Freedom Ring.” Manassas Park Middle School student Myles Lainer was the middle school winner.

Always an audience favorite, the MLK Community choir will be virtual this year. Under the musical direction of Candace Williams, the choir will perform selections that recognize the late Congressman John Lewis.

In addition to the Jan. 18 event, a preview concert was broadcast on the chapter’s YouTube channel last weekend.

The sorority chapter also invites the local community to participate in its “Day of Service” project in conjunction with the King Day program.

Donations of travel-size shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, deodorant and razors will be collected at the Upper Room Christian Cathedral, 10654 Wakeman Court in Manassas, on Jan. 18 from 3 until 6 p.m. Items collected will benefit the clients of Manassas Hunger and Homeless Outreach Ministries of Manassas.

See more headlines at InsideNoVa.com. Email tips to info@insidenova.com.

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(8) comments

Halyork

Translation...white people need not apply. Unfortunately, some within that community have financial interests to keep the “you’re a perpetual victim” narrative going. They still think there living in 1861 and Jefferson Davis, democrat is still president.

Iwouldntgiveabean

Man, somebody get you a alphabet book so you can learn to read the room.

Justsometruth

Yes, a person on our school board who is trying to now change a new high school name in PWC. She is only in it for herself. Even as a principal.....her district needs to send her packing.

InsideCommenter

The MLK day oratorical contest is open to everyone regardless of race. Jefferson Davis was a traitor and rebel to our country. He was a Dixiecrat all of whom became Republicans such as Strom Thurmond, their descendants are all Trump supporters many of whom who stormed the Capitol as with Confederate Battle Flags in support of the modern day GOP and Trump.

todd6263

Not to be confused with all the burning, rioting and looting done by Antifa and Socialist "progressive' mobs. That is not deemed to be newsworthy.

Citizen52

@Inside, please don’t equate the current President to the entire Republican Party. As for Confederate flags, I saw one but one too many. Many of the types of people who stormed the Capital were not mainstream at all. Saying that, any time you get a mob, mob mentality can take over.

swandive

You mean like people who pretend a MLK oratorical contest doesnt allow white people?? Thats as silly as pretended that you have proof of widespread voter fraud and encouraging a riot. Wait a min[ohmy] Are you DJT operating under a new identity since you have been banned from darn near all major social media platforms🤣🤣

citizen1

My guess is that the kid with the speech about personal accountability, not having babies out of wedlock, and emphasis on education will not win.

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