BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- This weekend will bring another Black History Oratory competition. It's a tradition that WJZ has hosted each year for decades.
As we near the end of Black History Month, there are still many stories to be told. Stories from some of our brightest Maryland high school students.
With the most submissions in the three-decade history of WJZ's annual competition, We're proud to once again honor the importance of Black history.
This year, our 17 semi-finalists selected one of three quotes and put into words what it means to them.
- "Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it." — Maya Angelou
- "The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but in doing too little. Not in living above your means, but below your capacity. It's not failure but aiming too low, that's life's greatest tragedy." — Benjamin E. Mays
- "Have a vision. Be demanding." — Colin Powell
Our 2021 champion orator Nefertiti Griffin of River Hill High School recalls her win. She says even as a shy young woman, this platform has given her the confidence to be more outgoing.
"I feel like it's important for people my age or young people, in general, to take part in this competition so that they can truly feel what it's like to be an activist," Griffin said. "Other people need to know the hardships that African Americans have gone through. And the way that we are able to articulate. A speech for other people to see what we've been through and how we can persevere."
As our finalists get ready, the champ is sharing this advice:
"You've got this," she said. "Thank you so much for submitting to the WJZ oratory competition. I'm very proud of you. Even if you don't win, you did great. Just know that you tried your hardest and great job to you!"
WJZ will air the competition Saturday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Here are the prizes the winning students will receive:
First place: $700 from WJZ, $2,000 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services; Second place: $400 from WJZ, $1,000 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services; Third place: $200 from WJZ, $500 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services.
Meet our 17 semifinalists
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