Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition February 2019 Barbados

The United States Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS invites applications for its second annual Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition taking place on Friday, February 22, 2019.

Competition Background:

Each February, Black History Month celebrates the contributions made by persons of African descent, and celebrates the defining moments in their history that have shaped society. The youth represents the future decision makers, innovators and leaders of a nation. They are a vital voice, who in the face of emerging unprecedented challenges, employ unique means to cope with and bring these challenges to light. By providing forums and opportunities for youth to share their perspectives, they can suggest solutions and options based on their distinct perspective and mobilize their counterparts to be active change agents.

In recognition of Black History Month 2019, U.S. Embassy Bridgetown invites interested Barbadian secondary schools to nominate one student (ages 14 to 16 years) to deliver a five minute speech in response to one of the questions listed below.


  • Must be a current Barbadian Fourth or Fifth Form student (ages 14 to 16 years)
  • Student must be supervised by a teacher or faculty member
  • Only one (1) student may represent each secondary institution
  • Schools are asked to submit the following information to the Public Affairs Section via email at by February 8, 2019 to be eligible for the competition.

– School’s Contact Information
– Student Representative’s name, form, and age
– Signed Participant Consent Form
– Name of the Faculty Supervisor and contact information
– Chosen Speech Prompt (options listed below under Guidelines)

  • Students and supervisors must be available for the competition on Friday, February 22, at 10:00 a.m. to deliver their presentations.


Students will select one prompt from the five options provided below. Students should conduct the necessary research, under the guidance of their faculty advisor, to present a thorough but concise argument to a five-member judging panel comprised of U.S. Embassy officials.

The judging panel will then ask the student follow-up questions regarding their argument. The student will have four minutes in which to respond to the judges’ questions, and defend their argument. Sixty percent (60%) of the student’s final score will be based on their prepared speech, and forty percent (40%) will come from their response to the follow-up questions.

Competitors have five minutes to present their speech, and four minutes to respond to the judges’ follow up questions. Time limits will be enforced. Full competition rules and judging criteria can be found in the attached Black History Month Speech Competition Regulations.

Speech Prompts: Prepare a five minute response to one of the prompts listed below.

    1. In January 2015, American activist April Reign launched the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite,
      in response to an all-Caucasian slate of acting nominations for the Academy Awards.
      This movement inspired calls for more diversity in the entertainment industry. In spite
      of the success of the 2018 release of Black Panther, evaluate whether the entertainment
      industry has done enough to encourage and showcase the cultural diversity of the United
      States in the years since the #OscarsSoWhite movement began.
    2. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to confront Caucasian public figures for
      cultural appropriation, “the act of taking or using things from a culture not your own,
      especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.” Musician Justin
      Timberlake, reality star and makeup mogul Kylie Jenner, and fashion designer Marc
      Jacobs are a few of the celebrities who have been accused of appropriating Black and
      African American culture. However, there has been less controversy surrounding the
      appropriation of Black culture by other ethnic minorities. Discuss whether cultural
      appropriation is morally wrong when carried out by other non-white individuals, for
      example Bruno Mars.
    3. 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans brought to
      English North America, what is today the state of Virginia, in August 1619. A legal
      framework for hereditary lifelong slavery in Virginia developed throughout the
      seventeenth century, and continued until the United States abolished slavery in 1865.
      However, the 400-year history of African Americans is often relegated to two chapters in
      American History textbooks, and race is often too controversial to discuss in classrooms.
      To what extent should the classroom be used as a forum to discuss race and ethnicity?
    4. In celebrating Black History Month in the United States, there is often a focus on the
      incredible work of a few pioneers, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass,
      Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks, many of whom either contributed to the AntiSlavery Movement or Civil Rights Movement. Identify and justify the inclusion of more
      controversial African American figures who should be recognized for the contributions
      to Black History.
    5. Several American literary classics, which are staples on school reading lists, have been
      criticized for their racist tones and/or racially offensive language, for example, Mark
      Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, and
      Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Assess whether such classic works should be
      removed from school reading lists, or if there is merit in their continued inclusion.


Students have the opportunity to win an incredible grand prize package valued at $1,000 USD for their school and themselves! Prizes will also be awarded to second and third place students.