At TEDxWilmington Talk, Teen Brought Crowd to Tears

Kaamilah Diabaté won the chance to speak through a contest that encourages students to reflect on the life and mission of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the prizes for winning last year’s inaugural Martin Luther King Communication Contest was the opportunity to speak at this year’s TEDxWilmington conference.

Kaamilah Diabaté of Howard High School of Technology took full advantage of that honor in August when she brought many in the crowd to tears. Diabaté addressed the recent tragedies at her school, where two young lives were lost in separate incidences of violence.

“She crushed it,” says MLK contest founder Jane Rubini. “It was a very powerful presentation. She had everyone captivated.”

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Diabaté, a junior at Howard, will help judge the 2017 version of the MLK contest. Semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 7 at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, with finals held Jan. 15 at The Baby Grand. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to speak at the 2017 TEDx talk. Registration closes Dec. 21.

The contest, open to New Castle County high school students, encourages youth to show how MLK’s legacy and message of social change through nonviolence speaks to their hopes and dreams. They do this through speech, poetry and rap during a five-minute presentation.

“Sometimes youth feel like they aren’t being heard,” says Rubini, an administrative associate at Christ Church Christiana Hundred, a contest co-sponsor with YWCA Delaware. “This gives them an opportunity to be heard.”

The contest is also meant to help students develop communication skills, enhance social awareness, and build confidence, self-esteem and leadership skills. Perhaps most importantly, it gives them a platform to express themselves.

“The priority is the message,” says Rubini. “If ever we needed to be reminded of Dr. King’s work and legacy, it’s today.”

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