By Kimery Williams
On the morning of February 24, 2018, the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association was proud to present its 17th Annual Bi-County High School Oratorical Contest, coordinated by the Honorable Hassan A. El-Amin. This year's topic presented young orators with one of the most engaging and relevant topics of our day: Is it legally consistent to advocate or justify kneeling during the National Anthem while advocating removing monuments honoring Confederate soldiers?
This year’s competitors exemplified the old adage of “quality over quantity.” The seven orators presented excellent and diverse responses to the questions that caused even the most learned of the audience to stop and think. Though each orator deserves recognition, the winner of the competition—from Sherwood High School in Montgomery County—exhibited an argument that not only recognized the political and legal differences between types of free speech, but also distinguished between the Constitutional protections accorded to individual versus government speech. Second place went to a contestant from Albert Einstein High School, and third place to a contestant from Charles Herbert Flowers High School.
Following the speeches, the competitors and guests received remarks from Mr. Azizuddin Abdur-Ra’oof, a former wide receiver for the Maryland Terrapins and Kansas City Chiefs. Afterwards, the scores were tallied up and the contestants were able to memorialize the day with plaques, certificates, gift bags, and photos. In addition, each contestant was given a private, constructive critique session with the distinguished contest judges named below.
Special thanks are extended to everyone who helped make the contest a success: JFB President Holly D. Reed and other officers who attended; Judge El-Amin’s staff; the Prince George's County Council's staff; contest judges the Honorable Michele D. Hotten, the Honorable Cathy H. Serrette, and Mr. Ibrahim Mumin; Mistress of Ceremony Maurene McNeil; Timekeeper the Honorable Sharon Burrell; Mr. Abdur-Ra’oof; and of course parents, family and supporters of the outstanding contestants.
Please promise to treat yourself to next year’s competition when we will again hear from our brilliant future leaders!