On what would have been his 90th birthday, hundreds of Prince William County residents gathered in the Hylton Memorial Chapel Monday for the 29th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Oratorical Contest.
Student speakers were asked to reflect on a famous quote of the late civil rights leader: “If you cannot to great things, do small things in a great way.”
Six middle and high school finalists took on the task with rousing speeches noting the ways students and everyday citizens can find the courage to do the right thing in small ways, actions that almost always have a much larger effect.
Zoree Jones, who won the high school prize for best speech delivered at the competition, recalled the accomplishments of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, whose young members were sprayed with powerful water hoses, hit with batons, threatened by police dogs, jailed and expelled from school for peaceably demonstrating against segregation in that city in 1963.
“Today, they teach us that no one is too young, no one is too powerless and no step is too small to make a difference,” Jones said.
Jones was also a high school winner in 2018.