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Carver Elementary's Jeremiah Smith and family

Students Shine at Annual SF Oratorical Contest


One Saturday morning this past February, hundreds of children got up early, dressed in their best clothes, and put themselves through a demanding day of public speaking. It was the 34th annual SFUSD Oratorical Contest sponsored by the San Francisco Alliance of Black School Educators.

At this popular and challenging test of skills, students from elementary, middle and high schools across SFUSD were judged on enunciation, projection, presentation style, poise, language use, vocabulary, delivery, and subject knowledge. Some categories required students to memorize a famous speech or poem, and others require students to perform creative works of their own.

The theme this year was the “50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Justice, Equality and Opportunity.”

The event was founded and continues with the work of the San Francisco Alliance of Black School Educators, an organization of educators from diverse fields and backgrounds. The group is affiliated with the National Alliance of Black School Educators and is dedicated to bridging the achievement gap for African-American students. It works to improve the quality of educational experiences and accomplishments of African-American students, parents/guardians and education professionals in ways, which will ultimately lead to a higher quality of life and standard of living including the preservation of African-American history and culture.

Jeremiah Smith, a first grader at Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary, recited "Hey Black Child" by Useni Eugene Perkins, and DeVanee Watkins, also from Carver Elementary, recited "I Stand Tall," author unknown.