By Rachael Cardin

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — WJZ is proud to sponsor the Oratory Contest held during Black History Month, where students from across the state choose a quote from significant figures in the African American community that spoke to them and explained why it has defined their lives.

“Strength will grow with the right mindset, these are the people who inspire, the people we remember, success is earned, it is not received. Nobody should have to suffer in silence.”

Those words echoing off the walls of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum as semi-finalists gave speeches inspired by a selection of quotes from iconic black historical figures.

Booker T. Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Audrey Lorde- powerful voices whose determination changed the course of history.

As WJZ’s Nicole Baker emceed the event, she announced the top three places.

Lauren Rasmussen came in third with a speech focused on her own mental health struggles.

“I knew immediately when I read Oprah Winfrey’s quote where there is no struggle, there is no strength that that is what I wanted to write about.” Rasmussen said.

Ben Matz came in second with his personal account of his cross country running, encouraging anyone who wants to try this contest next year.

“Go for it, you miss every shot you don’t take.” Matz said.

But the winner used a long form poem to make her speech resonate.

“My people were tired of being 3/5 of a person, so they used 5/5 of their energy and overcame 10/5 of fear to pursue this vision and there were many that died trying.” said Adjo Evonlah.

The winners received a cash prize and scholarship money from Toyota Financial Services.

Rachael Cardin

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