We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest

Every year, hundreds of children from pre-K through 12th grade take the stage at the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, a public speaking competition where they perform poetry and speeches inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film covers the months leading up to the 40th annual festival, as schools across the city send their top-placing students to compete. It is a portrait of young people raising their voices about issues they care about and of the unique community that celebrates and supports them. Read More

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'It Always Brings Me To Tears'

Executive producer and Oakland native Mahershala Ali sits down with Gregory Payton to discuss the importance of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Festival and its embodiment of MLK's legacy.

Additional Scenes From We Are the Dream

Watch extra moments from the documentary highlighting students and teachers involved in the Oakland Oratorical Festival.

Things We Carry on the Sea

Claudia Hung-Haas’s 3rd grade class at Lincoln Elementary explores the topic of immigration and performs excerpts from Wang Ping’s poem 'Things We Carry on the Sea.'

My Black

5th grader Amiya Robinson shares how being black is beautiful in her poem 'My Black.'

To Walk in the Way of Dr. King

Sri Lankan-born Karunyan Kamalraj, age 9, compares anti-black sentiment in the U.S. to the struggle of the Tamil-speaking minorities in Sri Lanka in a speech he wrote.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Timia Brown and O'nalee Dixon, both age 10, perform and talk about a poem they wrote inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. King.


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Learn more about institutions like the Museum of African American History and the NAACP, as well as where to find oratorical contests around the country.


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