BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore teen is turning heads with his powerful words that are now inspiring a community. Caleb Drummond took home first place in this year’s WJZ Black History Oratory Contest.
The high school junior says his phone hasn’t stopped ringing from people calling to congratulate him. Drummond says his win was meant to be, but it almost didn’t happen.
From the very beginning, the 16-year-old has had a gift.
“My parents would tell me when I was a little kid I was always writing stories, things like that. I’ve always loved writing, I’ve always loved presenting things.” he said. “I like being able to inspire others, and if I can help — even if it’s a 100-person crowd — if I can help one person, I’ve achieved something.”
While few have known for years, Baltimore got a glimpse on Sunday of the power this son of preachers possesses.
“Anything that he did, it was intentionally made up in his mind that he was going to do it,” said Mount Zion Baptist Christian School Principal Shawn Floyd.
His speech on the power of education, inspired from a quote by Marian Wright Edelman, drew praise and applause from the crowd at the 25th annual WJZ Black History Oratory Contest — hosted by WJZ’s Vic Carter.
“When I have knowledge, I have power. When you have information, you are free. When we are educated, we will bring change,” he said.
Drummond, a Johns Hopkins intern, practiced for weeks — saving the speech as his phone screen saver.
He nearly turned down the chance that was presented to him by Floyd. His victory is now the talk at his school.
“To watch him actually see that what we’ve been teaching, that hard work pays off, was something that was beyond words,” Floyd said.
It’s a gift Drummond continues to hone, with hopes that one day he will help his community.
“I do have an opportunity, and I can go somewhere, and when I came to that realization, when I did, I stuck with it,” Drummond said.
He says he looks forward to having a career in business and finance.
For his win, Drummond received a cash prize, along with a $2000 scholarship.