For you, a dose of youthful inspiration


Consider this an antidote to the gloomy weather (and whatever else may be ailing OUSD at the moment): an audio-visual slideshow of Cleveland Elementary School’s Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Fest, photographed and produced by the lovely and talented Alison Yin.

I wrote a little story about the annual, district-wide tradition for today’s Trib, too.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://www.myspace.com/antoinettecooper Antoinette Cooper

    An antidote indeed! The children were so excited that the paper took interest. It gave them a chance to see, even more, that their words carried importance. The “little story” was beautiful, and the slideshow nearly brought a couple of tears to my eyes. I guess some things in OUSD can be beautiful. Many seeds were planted that day in the hearts and minds of those Cleveland students.

  • John

    At the (now closed) school I last worked at there was an extremely talented Afro-American teacher (TSA) who did a number of very creative activities with the Oratorical Fest and other things Afro-American related.

    She taught and conveyed a sense of Afro-American history by having students learn about contemporary and historical Afro-American figures. The fruits of her efforts were featured at a special evening assembly dedicated to Afro-American history. Students would assume different famous Afro-American character roles. Those attending this informative event would go from booth to both with posted information (pictures and prose) about a famous Afro-American. A student at each booth was dressed to depict and assume the role of a given character by communicating something about his/her life. It was extremely effective and a wonderful means of teaching students and adults something about Afro-American heritage.

    On Saint Patrick’s Day this same wonderfully creative Afro-American teacher would address the entire student body, suggesting that they not wear green or pinch each other. She told them that Saint Patrick’s Day comes once a year and everyone needs to just behave and get through it. One of my fellow Irish American teacher colleagues was extremely annoyed by this annual “let’s just get through Saint Patrick’s Day” attitude when it could have provided a school wide opportunity to teach a wee little something about Irish American heritage.

    Sometimes this teacher and I would combine our classes, lock the door, and watch ‘Darby O’ Gill & the Little People’ followed by a discussion about Leprecon mythology, an alternative meaning for green, and watching and performing an Irish jig.

    I would sometimes wonder why we called it “celebrating diversity” when in many schools diversity celebration is largely restricted to the celebration of Afro-American culture and history.

    I sometimes pondered the phrase, “Our strength is our diversity” in connection with the founding of the NAACP, and the role and contribution of Jewish people in that enterprise. Yet I never heard so much as a whisper about it at any of the many African American Historical events I attended over the years.

    Anyway, I try to promote diversity by sending the (above) Afro-American teacher/event organizer a little celebratory something (card or voice mail or something) commemorative of Saint Patrick’s day each year.

    I’d also send something for Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year, etc. but believe the source of annual ethnic commemoration reminders should be more diverse.

  • MaryAnn

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful moment.

    – MaryAnn

  • Sharon

    Hi Katy,

    More slide shows like this one here please, if you can manage it. I don’t want reading content to be replaced by visual content, but slide shows like this one have the ability to bring us in touch with the real people and the real settings of OUSD. This was a very powerful supplement to your piece. Thanks.

  • Sue

    This brought back a fond memory – when my older son was a 3rd grader, still in Communication Handicap Special Day Class, and the teacher (bless you Mrs. Ford, I hope all is well with you wherever you are!) had the entire class memorize and recite a short poem for a multi-school MLK oratorical event.

    My boy and one other, the two best speakers, introduced their class and poem, and the whole team recited proudly and in unison. It was awesome, and those CH kids got an award – competing against their non-disabled peers no less.

    I suspect that applause may have been the beginning of my son’s love of drama and performing.

    Thank you for nurturing and supporting these kids too, Katy. A chance to shine is always a good thing!

  • jkenny

    Katy, that was great!
    My class won the city wide oratorical fest when I was in first grade, so I remember how truly inspirational it can be.
    Excellent slideshow!

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks for the nice feedback, Jesse, Sue, MaryAnn and Antoinette.

    And Sharon, I agree with you about the power of multimedia to convey the essence of a moment, or even something as mundane as the feel of a school hallway. I’ll do my best to keep the videos and slideshows coming, and to post them on this blog.