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Delta State students explore “Living the Dream” during Black History Month Oratorical Contest

From left, Delta State President William N. LaForge is pictured along with DSU’s 2021 Black History Month Oratorical Contest winners: Davontre Henderson, third place; Marcie Taylor Bacchus, first place; and Awwall Alli, second place.

CLEVELAND, Miss. Unity, support, equality, peace and justice—these are a few of the many themes explored by Delta State University students during the inaugural Black History Month Oratorical Contest, hosted on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

“If we put all of this together, I think we have a very special dream for the future,” said Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Kurt Keppler in response to the four student speakers who shared their interpretation of the topic, “Living the Dream.”

Organized by the Office of Student Life as part of the Delta State’s continued observance of Black History Month, the event was hosted in Jobe Auditorium and was also available for viewing on Facebook Live.

During the competition, contestants were scored by judges for the chance to win a cash prize.

The first-place winner and recipient of a $300 prize was Marcie Taylor Bacchus, a senior History major; the second-place winner and recipient of a $200 prize was Awwall Alli, a senior Nursing major; and the third-place winner and recipient of a $100 prize was Davontre Henderson, a junior Sports Management and Business Marketing major.

“Delta State is a university of inclusion; we celebrate our multi-cultural heritage every day,” said President William N. LaForge as he welcomed those in attendance both in-person and virtually. “We pride ourselves on bringing people together and teaching them that there are different viewpoints and other ways of life. It is in this spirit that we celebrate this month and our students as they bring us wonderful messages.”

Jaida Barnes, president of Delta State’s National Pan-Hellenic Council

President of Delta State’s National Pan-Hellenic Council Jaida Barnes, who served as the program’s guide, asked those in attendance to reflect on the event’s topic.

“With everything that has been going on in today’s society, we’ve all had to reflect on the past, evaluate our present and dare to dream,” she said. “I hope tonight inspires ideas and discussions on how we can make our communities and our world a better place.”

Organizer Rochelle Oswley, DSU’s director of student development, encouraged the Delta State community to continue to “speak up” and “speak out.”

“Tonight is a celebration of love, hope, unity and the freedom to dream beyond expectations—living and succeeding against the odds,” she said. “It is my hope that this inaugural program will enlighten and empower all of us to embrace diversity, to share our stories and to continue the legacy of excellence and achievement highlighted during Black History Month.”

Click HERE to view a replay of the event!