Black History Oratorical Competition

The Ritz Annual Black History Oratorical Competition   

Has been postponed until further notice. 

This year's focus for oration is: What's In A Name?

The African Diaspora is a term describing the 940 million people of African descent across the globe who reside within and outside the borders of our African homeland. There are many different names for black people around the world; we use geographic native descriptions such as: Sub-Saharan African, Afro Cuban, Afro Columbian, Afro Latino, West Indian, Nigerian, Senegalese, and Ghanaian, African American, Black.  

For people of African descent in the United States, there has been an evolution of names, terms, cultural identifiers and derogatory epithets describing black folks over the centuries, from slave, nigger, colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black and resting in the twenty-first century, African American.

In the new millennium, more and more Black people from around the world are migrating to the United States.  Today’s Black community is just as varied as the Hispanic and Asian communities, and is no longer the monolithic group that many politicians, civil rights advocates, and demographers say it is. Equating blackness with being African-American does not suffice for the Bahamian, Haitian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Sudanese, Afro-Brazilian, or Cape Verdean.  It is no longer enough to assume that the brown-skinned person walking down the street is African-American.

American poet James Baldwin wrote, "Nobody Knows My Name." Many have questioned and pondered the name given to people of African descent living in America. Do any of these statements, terms, quotes and questions apply today? What is in a name?  How do you identify yourself and why?  What does it mean to be African American, Jamaican American, Haitian American, Caribbean American, West Indian American, or any other name that attaches heritage to a country?  Expound and react as a person living in America and a citizen of the world.  


Eligibility:  High Schools students currently enrolled in Grades 10, 11 or 12 are eligible to apply.

  • A letter from a guidance counselor or other administrative equivalent must be submitted with application to verify academic standing.
  • Contestants shall prepare orations and speak on the theme. Each contestant will have 4-6 minutes for their oration (not less than four minutes and no more than six minutes).
  • A typed copy of the presentation MUST be presented to the contest committee by Tuesday, February 21, 2012.
  • All orations must be memorized. Reading from note cards, paper, or other written materials during the final competition will not be permitted.
  • Contestants should not include their name, school, city, state or any other identifying information about themselves during the oration.
  • All applications must be received by February 16, 2012. Applications may be submitted by fax to 904-632-5555, Attn: Teneese Williams, by email to, or by standard US mail.
  • Costumes and hand props are permitted. No stage props permitted. A podium & chair will be provided upon request.
  • No audio-visual or CD accompaniment permitted.


Scoring procedures will conform to a point system, where each contest can receive up to a total of 100 combined points in four categories.  Categories and points are:

  • Delivery-  25 points
  • Effectiveness-  30 points
  • Content-  35 points
  • Appearance/Appropriateness of Attire-  10 points

Further details on penalties and scoring will be given at the contestant orientation.


Contestants will compete to win prizes including

  • 2-day all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. including hotel, travel aboard Amtrak, and meal allowance.
  • Super Gift Card prize pack
  • Many more incredible prizes!

The Annual Black History Month Oratorical Competition is presented by the Ritz Theatre and Museum in association with AMTRAK. 


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