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Langston Hughes

Youth Oratorical 


The 2023 Langston Hughes

Youth Oratorical Contest

Theme: "Let life be like music…

Date:  2023 Langston Hughes Youth Oratorical Contest

Saturday, February 4, 2023

1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: The Cultural Center at the Opera House

121 N. Union Ave, Havre de Grace, Md 21078 

Reserve Seating Required

Click Here to Reserve Seating

Join Us

This annual event celebrates the Havre de Grace Colored School Museum and Cultural Center’s historic connections to the famous poet Langston Hughes and honors the legacy of those that advocated for equitable access to education for African American students in Harford County. 

Public, private, and homeschool students, in grades 6-12 from Harford County, deliver original speeches inspired by the work of poet and playwright Langston Hughes. 


 Contestants are required to deliver a 4 to 5 minute speech using the theme

from a Langston Hughes quote: “Let life be like music…"


 Saturday, January 21, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., at

 the Havre de Grace Colored School Museum and Cultural Center, Inc., 

555 Alliance Street, Havre de Grace, MD 21078

(Virtual coaching sessions will be held with individual students upon request.)


1st place in each category:

(middle and high school contestants) $500 each

2nd place in each category:

(middle and high school contestants) $300 each

3rd place in each category:

(middle and high school contestants) $200 each

(Plus the top 10 runners up will receive  $100 each)

Scholarships are payable to the student. All contestants must be present to receive their award. 

Scholarships are awarded by a sponsor.  No donations or grants are used to fund the awards.)


➢ Contestants must be a Harford County resident.

➢Contestants must be in grades 6 through 12. Homeschooled students are eligible.

➢Contestants must show a valid school ID or proof of age.

➢Contestants must deliver a speech that incorporates the official theme, “Let life be like music…" and use the phrase in their speech at least once.

➢ Speeches should be inspirational. No politics or offensive language are allowed.

➢ Speeches must be at least 4 minutes but no more than 5 minutes in length.

➢ A contestant will be penalized a point if the speech is less than 4 minutes or over 5 minutes. This penalty will be determined by the official timekeeper.

➢ Props, special costumes, clothing, or prompters are not permitted.

➢Speeches must be delivered in English.

➢Copyrighted or quoted material must be verbally identified.

➢Contestants must prepare his or her own speech.

➢ Contestants are not allowed to use or read from any notes during their oratorical contest presentation. 


➢ Failure to use the official topic - 3 points

➢ Failure to identify non-original material – disqualification

➢ Use of props, special costumes/clothing, or prompters – disqualification

➢Time penalties – 1 point for every 15 seconds or a fraction of over or under the allotted time.


➢ Poise – appearance, and personality: 20 points

➢ Content of Speech – subject adherence, theme, content, and logic: 35 points

➢ Delivery & Presentation – voice, volume, pronunciation, gestures, eye contact, sincerity, and emphasis: 35 points

➢Overall Effectiveness – appeal, impression, attitude, and effect: 10 points.