Finalists Share Inspiring Words At WJZ Black History Oratory Contest

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As part our Continuing Community Commitment, the WJZ Black History Oratory Contest was held Sunday. And once again, it brought out some of Baltimore’s best and brightest students.

Linh Bui has their touching speeches and introduces the winner.

The finalists each chose a famous quote and then gave a speech about what the words meant to them. Their stories will inspire you.

With WJZ’s own Gigi Barnett as emcee, WJZ is a proud sponsor of this year’s Black History Oratory Contest. Twenty finalists competed for scholarships and prizes.

Senior Dajahnae Wing, who wants to be a lawyer, came in third place.

“It just allows me to be able to express myself to any amount of people and not really be nervous and just talk,” she said.

Wing shared deeply personal details about her life, while talking about overcoming struggles.

“When I look in the mirror, I see scars of a cancer I overcame, marks from a molestation I conquered and tears from a depression I fought,” she said.

Senior Destanee Hamilton gave an emotional speech about racism and sexism, breaking down in tears on stage.

“The bewilderment that I’m in Gifted and Talented courses. The astonishment that I’m in National Honors Society. My skin tells them a story that they ignorantly misread,” she said.

Hamilton, who wants to be a pediatrician, came in second place.

“This is the first time that I’ve done something like this. And so it just means I can do even more,” she said.

The winner? Sophomore Jakim Burns, who says he was nervous, but did his best.

“It was so hard not to focus on other people’s speeches and just focus on my words and remembering everything that I said. But I think I did good,” he said.

His inspiring speech encouraged his peers to change the world.

“As agents of change, we hold the pen that writes a never-ending story of success,” Burns said.

Burns plans to defend his title next year.

The finalists could choose a quote from President Barack Obama, talk show host Oprah Winfrey or athlete Jesse Owens.

Other sponsors include the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, GEICO, Toyota and Sojourner Douglass College.

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