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11-year-old Law elementary student wins HISD's MLK Oratory competition

Kandence Smith's speech reflected on 'what MLK would have to say today about hope for tomorrow?'

HOUSTON — Houston ISD's best and brightest were on display Friday for the 27th annual MLK Oratory competition. 

Twelve finalists from across the district amazed and inspired the judges with their powerful speeches on hope for tomorrow. 

Fourth and fifth-grade students presented three to five-minute speeches on what Dr. King would say to us all of us today about hope for tomorrow. 

"It's always stiff competition," said Scott Ellis with Foley and Lardner. "These kids are amazing. You listen to these speeches and you come away with renewed hope for our society."

The 12 finalists each walked away with a $100 prize. Xavier Holmes finished third. Journey Sensley came in 2nd, but it was 11-year-old Kandence Smith's words that earned her a 1st place finish. Smith also won a $1,000 prize which moved her to tears. 

"I was thinking did they actually just call me," said Smith. "Words couldn't describe what was happening in my head."

Watch the speeches from all 12 finalists in the video below:

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