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Hard work pays off! HISD 4th grader wins MLK Oratory Competition

“We are not where we should be, but thank God we are not where we used to be,” 10-year-old Ronnie Williams said during his speech.

HOUSTON — A 4th-grade student at Houston ISD’s Law Elementary School has channeled the power of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., using his own young voice to deliver an award-winning speech at the annual MLK Oratory Competition.

It took just under five minutes for Ronnie Williams, 10, to deliver the speech.

It took a whole lot longer to perfect it.

“Three months,” Ronnie said. “Three long months.”

A few months ago, Ronnie’s science and drama teacher, Ms. Carol, called his mother, Precious Williams, about HISD’s annual MLK Oratory Competition.

“She thought that he was capable,” Williams said.

She said it came as no surprise as her straight-A son has always had a flair for performing.

Delivering a speech about King was something Ronnie was interested in. He had already been inspired by him in the classroom.

“It felt great to learn about him and what he did,” Ronnie said. “How he fought for everybody’s equal rights.”

However, Ronnie couldn’t just memorize a speech. He had to write it, too.

The topic? How King would view America today.

“It was hard. I had to look up words, then paraphrase, explain and use in a sentence,” he said.

His mom helped, too! Two hours a day, all leading up to this past week when Ronnie, last up after dozens of other competitors, took a deep breath and began.

He said at first he felt nervous but once he started speaking his nerves went away.

“At the core of his vision was the desire to stop hate,” Ronnie said to the audience.

For almost five minutes, Ronnie laid out his ideas on how King would feel about voting, justice and hate in 2022.

His performance felt good.

“I did all the hand signs, I emphasized, I did everything right,” he said.

And it felt good for his family to watch.

“I broke down,” Williams said, “I was extremely proud. Proud that he understood the message and that he understood the history behind the person.”

It’s in understanding that rich and painful history that Ronnie can make a difference in the future.

“Progress not perfection,” Ronnie said during his speech. “We are not where we should be but thank God we are not where we used to be.”

To watch Ronnie’s full speech, click here.

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