On Saturday, January 14, 2023, the Alpha Alpha Lambda Scholarship and Educational Fund of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the 25th Anniversary of the Belford V. Lawson Oratorical Competition at Seton Hall University.
The competition, which has been held annually for the past 25 years, brings together young men from 7th and 8th grade in Essex County, New Jersey to deliver speeches on “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Perspectives on the World Today.” The goal of the program is to lift the confidence, oratory skills, and passion of Essex County young men while ensuring that the next generation never forgets the sacrifice and impact of civil rights icon and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This year’s competition featured six finalists, representing the best and brightest of Essex County. They were: Kevin Flores of Louise A. Spencer School in Newark, Dante Folson of Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange, Luis Franco of Louise A. Spencer School in Newark, Amadu Musa of Louise A. Spencer School in Newark, Zachary Richardson of Far Brook School in South Orange, and Mickerson Volcy of Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange.
The winner of this year’s competition was Amadu Musa of Newark. Amadu is a member of the National Honor Society at Louise A. Spencer School in Newark and a participant in Project Alpha, a national program of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. that provides ongoing mentorship for young men.
“My experience participating in this competition was amazing! The new opportunities that the Alphas have opened up for me will really benefit me along the way,” said Amadu Musa. “Like always, it feels amazing to win. I can’t thank the Alphas more for this opportunity.”
The remaining awardees this year were Zachary Richardson in 2nd place, Dante Folson in 3rd place, Kevin Flores, Mickerson Volcy, and Luis Franco receiving honorable mentions.
The competition was judged on 10 criteria, including oratorical skills, content, time management, presentation, among others. Through community contributions, ticket sales, and sponsorships, the Alpha Alpha Lambda Scholarship and Educational Fund provided monetary awards to the winners in addition to coaching, new suits, and continued mentoring to help further their academic endeavors.
The competition was emceed by ABC News Anchor and National Correspondent, Derricke Dennis. The foundation provided over $5,000 in cash and prizes to participants, with each finalist receiving an Acer Chromebook, a medal, and cash award, along with encouragement to open a savings account at a local bank.
“For 25 years, this event has highlighted the best our young men have to offer in Essex County, New Jersey,” said Dr. Brian Agnew, Chairman of the 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Competition. “Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. prepares future leaders, like these young men, through programs that empower confidence, encourage academic excellence, and provide service and advocacy to our communities.”