When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, America listened. His legacy is more than his message — it’s the power with which it was delivered.

2016 MLK Communications Contest Kaamilah Diabate hosts the 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Communication Contest Sunday at the Baby Grand in Wilmington. (Photo: Jerry Habraken, The News Journal)

Seven teenagers spent Sunday in a Wilmington opera house, speaking the message of their hearts, driven by King’s hope for the future. Fifty years after his death, they channeled his gift for oratory through their own unique talents.

The high school students who participated in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Communication Contest used speeches, rap, poetry and verse to tell their truths. They were charged with reflecting on King’s message of social justice through a modern lens.

“Dear Mr. King, I cannot dream anymore because every time I close my eyes I see children without fathers that will grow to be monsters because their dreams were ignored, and it’s hard. It’s hard to dream when you sleep on the floor ’cause you’re poor, and tell me Mr. King, please, what are their dreams compared to yours,” said Lake Forest High School senior Lester Fair, his letter to King told in a flowing verse earning him second place.

The speeches were passionate, the voices of young people with their own experiences of the nation’s racial divide, of violence on TV and in their neighborhoods. They were colored with both optimism and doubt, parsed out in careful verse or spit rapid fire.

“As I look into the depths of my mirror, I stand there in all my black girl magic and beauty and I wonder, who am I,” said Charter School of Wilmington Sophomore Deborah Olatunji in her third-place speech. “We won’t keep quiet because I am 2018, a year of change.”

Read more — delawareonline (The News Journal)