BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Local students made their families, schools and communities proud on Saturday during the presentation of the 2022 WJZ Black History Oratory Competition.

The annual oratory competition, which is held in honor of Black History Month, featured powerful speeches from 17 Maryland high school students, based on a series of quotes from Maya Angelou, Benjamin E. Mays and Colin Powell.

READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat Prompts Alert Day Saturday

But while we received exceptional entries from all 17 of our semifinalists, the judges could only select one winner. And the winner is: Asher Harcum from Baltimore City College High School. Congratulations, Asher!

Coming in second place was Akil Leggett, Jr., from Annapolis High School. Taking third place was Osiris Griffin from River Hill High School. Congratulations to you two as well, along with all of our oratory competition entrants.

Watch the first, second and third-place speeches below:

READ MORE: Baltimore Police Stepping Up Deployment On Fourth Of July Weekend, Commissioner Says

This year, participants were asked to choose one quote from the three listed below and explain what it means to them:

  • “Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.” — Maya Angelou
  • “The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but in doing too little. Not in living above your means, but below your capacity. It’s not failure but aiming too low, that’s life’s greatest tragedy.” — Benjamin E. Mays
  • “Have a vision. Be demanding.” — Colin Powell

There was a lot on the line, too. Below is the breakdown of the prizes our top three entries will take home:

  • First place: $700 from WJZ, $2,000 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services;
  • Second place: $400 from WJZ, $1,000 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services;
  • Third place: $200 from WJZ, $500 scholarship gift card from Toyota Financial Services.
MORE NEWS: State Police Expand Traffic Enforcement On I-83 In Baltimore City

Once again, thank you to all of our 2022 competition entrants and to everyone who tuned in for Saturday’s special event. We couldn’t have done it without you.

CBS Baltimore Staff