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Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition
January 15, 2021

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U.S. Embassy Black History Month

Secondary School Speech Competition

Official Speech Contest Rules

Contest Sponsors[1]

The Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy Bridgetown (the “Contest Sponsors”).

Description of Contest Objectives

The United States Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS is pleased to announce its Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition which is open to all secondary school students in the Eastern Caribbean.

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.  Young people represent the future decision makers, innovators, and leaders of a country.  They are vital voices, which in the face of challenges, employ unique approaches to solve problems and can mobilize entire communities to be active agents for positive change.

In recognition of Black History Month 2021, U.S. Embassy Bridgetown invites interested secondary school students (ages 13 to 16 years) in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines to deliver a speech, not exceeding three (3) minutes, to respond to one of the two prompts listed below.  Participants will have the opportunity to win a grand prize package valued at $1,000 USD for themselves and their school.

Speech Prompts:

  1. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black, female major-party candidate to run for the office of the President of the United States. Almost 50 years later, Kamala Harris will become the first Black South Asian female Vice President of the United States. Citing examples from your country, assess how black females have been able to break barriers in a system in which they have been historically underrepresented.  Do you believe that enough is being done to encourage gender equality and racial diversity?  Explain why or why not.
  1. Author, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou wrote: “A leader sees greatness in other people. He nor she can be much of a leader if all she sees is herself.” Courage, integrity, charisma, commitment, communication skills are just a few of the attributes that are often mentioned as characteristics of great leaders.  In January, we celebrate the lives and accomplishments of two individuals who possessed these attributes, Martin Luther King Jr. and Errol Barrow.  What quality or qualities do you believe are the most important in a leader?  Why?


Events from this contest may be announced and promoted on various Social Media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, and the U.S. Embassy website, but contest entry and administration will take place through e-mail.  Contest winners may also be announced on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, local press, and the Contest Sponsors’ websites; however, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Flickr are not partners or sponsors of the contest.  Contestants are reminded that by participating in the contest and uploading content to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr, they are bound by these platforms’ Terms of Service and any agreements contained therein.

How to Enter

Secondary school students should complete this Google Form and upload a video of their recorded speech to bhmspeechcompetition@gmail.com  via WeTransfer, no later than 11:59 p.m. AST Friday, February 19, 2021.

Students must select one (1) prompt provided and prepare a speech up to three (3) minutes arguing their position.  Speeches must not exceed three (3) minutes.  The judging panel will assess the contestants and complete their rankings based on the general criteria listed on pages 3 and 4 of this document.  The judges’ decision is final.

Participation in the contest is deemed as acceptance of these Official Contest Rules.

The contest commences on January 15, 2021 with an announcement on Embassy Bridgetown’s Facebook page and ends on February 19, 2021.  The winners will be announced on the Embassy Facebook page the week of February 22, 2021, and the prizes presented to the top three students.

Content Requirements

  1. Speeches must not contain obscenity, explicit sexual material, profanity, calls or incitement to violence, commercial solicitation or commercial promotion. Speeches must conform to local law and must not contain content that could be considered abusive, inflammatory, denigrating, or disrespectful to any of the Contest Sponsors, or to any groups, individuals or institutions.  Speeches must adhere both in appearance and in fact to the norms of civil discourse.  In other words, the content of all speeches must be suitable for a global, public audience.
  2. Speeches must be original content created by the contestant and must not contain any elements that are protected by someone else’s copyright or otherwise subject to third party intellectual property or proprietary rights, including privacy and publicity rights (except as expressly permitted below in (d)). Contest Sponsors recognize no allowance for “fair use” of copyrighted material, nor do Contest Sponsors recognize allowance for use of licensed materials created or owned by a third party.
  3. Contest Sponsors reserve the right to disqualify, at their sole and absolute discretion, any speech that does not adhere to these criteria and to the intent and substance of these Official Contest Rules.
  4. In the event of any question or difference of views regarding compliance with, interpretation, or application of these content requirements or other provisions of these Official Contest Rules, Contest Sponsors reserve the exclusive right to resolve such questions or differences of views in their sole discretion.

Technical Format Requirements

Video submissions must be in .mov or .mp4 format, 2GB or smaller, and the resolution at least 720p.


  1. Contestants must be between 13 and 16 years old on the date of entry into the contest. Parental or legal guardian consent is required for individuals under the age of 18. Contestants must be residents of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and may not be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  2. The individual participating in the Speech Contest will be considered the contestant and will be the only individual eligible to compete for the prize. Organizations are not eligible to compete for the prize, either as an entity, or through representation by an individual.  In order to be eligible for the prize, the contestant must provide complete and accurate information.
  3. The following individuals are not eligible to participate in the contest: Employees, interns, directors, and officers of the Contest Sponsors, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, or the U.S. Government; or any employees, interns, directors, officers of any agencies, companies or entities involved in the administration, advertising, judging, creation, development, execution, and/or fulfillment of the contest, and the immediate family members (defined as spouse, recognized partner, parent, child, sibling, and spouse or “step” of each) and those living in the same household of each such individual.
  4. Once a submission has been accepted for entry into the contest, the contestant’s name and country may be publicly identified at the sole discretion of the contestants.

Selection of a Winner

  1. All speeches are subject to screening by Contest Sponsors to ensure compliance with these Official Contest Rules. Contest Sponsors reserve the right in their sole and absolute discretion to verify in the final analysis whether a potential finalist or potential winning speech has fully complied with these Official Contest Rules before posting to the contest site, awarding prize, recognizing as winner, etc.
  2. Judges: The contest jury is comprised of three (3) individuals from the U.S. Embassy Bridgetown.
  3. Judging Criteria: The judges will use the following general criteria to assess the contestants and determine a winner.
  • Elocution
  • Organization
  • Reasoning and Logic
  • Argument: Evidence, Examples and Expert Opinions used in support of ideas or conclusions
  • Grammar and Language
  • Originality
  1. Winners: Each winner and/or finalist will be required to sign and return to Contest Sponsors a statement of eligibility and liability/publicity release and provide a short bio (where applicable) and a brief statement about the speech; otherwise the winner and/or finalist will be ineligible for any prize. The inability of Contest Sponsors to contact a potential winner may result in disqualification and/or selection of an alternate winner from among all remaining eligible submissions.
  2. Winners and runners-up will be notified via the e-mail address they provided upon entry. Winners and finalists may be announced on the Embassy website and/or social media pages.    Winners and finalists may choose to use an alias instead of their real name and may request other identifying information be kept private.


  1. Students have the opportunity to win a grand prize package valued at $1,000 USD for their school and themselves. Prizes will also be awarded to second and third place students.
  2. Any unused portion of the prize is not transferable, convertible, or exchangeable and cannot be taken as cash. All taxes on or in connection with any prize, and the reporting consequences thereof, are the sole and exclusive responsibility of the winner.

Liability and Rights

  1. Contest Sponsors do not endorse any submissions or messages expressed therein, and Contest Sponsors expressly disclaim any and all liability in connection with the submitted essays including disputes between collaborators related to a submission.
  2. The contest and its sponsors do not permit copyright infringing activities or infringement of any other intellectual property rights, and Contest Sponsors reserve the right to remove and disqualify any submission they deem to be in violation of another party’s copyright or other intellectual property rights.
  3. Contestants retain sole ownership of their original work. The submission remains the intellectual property of contestant, and the Contest Sponsors and U.S. Government make no claim of copyright as to the work of any individual who enters the contest.  Contestant specifically agrees to give the Contest Sponsors permission to use all content submitted for purposes of judging the contest.  Finalists and/or winners will be required to grant Contest Sponsors, with proper attribution through whatever means they deem appropriate, a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, and/or display the submission in any media formats and through any media channels in perpetuity in connection with the activities and operations of the contest.
  4. Contestant assumes sole responsibility for the contest submission and the material contained in it, and for any consequences of submitting or posting it.
  5. Contest Sponsors reserve the right at any time to verify the validity of entries and of contestants and to disqualify any contestant or entry deemed not in compliance with these Official Contest Rules. Contest Sponsors also reserve the right to request further documentation, at their sole and absolute discretion, to verify eligibility and compliance with these Official Contest Rules.
  6. If a prize or any portion thereof is unavailable, Contest Sponsors, in their sole discretion, reserve the right to substitute the prize with another prize of equal or greater value and/or specification.
  7. Contest Sponsors reserve the right, at any time and in their sole discretion, to disqualify and/or deem ineligible any individual who they reasonably believe (i) has violated the Official Contest Rules; (ii) has violated the terms of use of platform, or (iii) is acting in a bad faith, or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person.
  8. Contest Sponsors reserve the right to modify, suspend, terminate or cancel the contest at their discretion for any reason.
  9. Contestant agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Contest Sponsors, their parent, subsidiary and affiliated companies, officers, directors, employees, interns, and agents, from and against any and all claims, damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debts, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees) arising from (i) violation of these Official Contest Rules; (ii) violation of any third party right, including without limitation any copyright, trademark, intellectual property, privacy, publicity, or other proprietary right in connection with the contest; or (iii) any claim that a contest submission caused any harm, including financial, to any third party.  These indemnification and hold harmless obligations will survive indefinitely beyond the conclusion of the contest.
  10. The conduct, judging, and awarding of prizes will be carried out in full compliance with applicable U.S. law and host country law. In the event of a conflict between U.S. law and host country law, U.S. law shall apply.
  11. Contest Sponsors and the U.S. Government will take reasonable measures to protect privacy data, personally identifiable information, and other sensitive data of contestants. Contact information provided by contestants may be stored by S. Embassy Bridgetown and may be used to contact contestants for other purposes in the future.  This information may be shared with the co-sponsor of the contest and/or be made available to third parties, to the extent permitted by law.
  12. Contest Sponsors assume no liability or responsibility for any loss or harm resulting from any user’s participation in or attempt to participate in the contest or ability or inability to upload, download, or otherwise access any information in connection with participating in the contest. Contest Sponsors assume no responsibility or liability for technical problems, or technical malfunctions arising in connection with the operation of the contest, including: hardware or software errors; faulty computer, telephone, cable, satellite, network, electronic, wireless or Internet connectivity, or other online communication problems; errors or limitations of any Internet service providers, servers, hosts or providers; garbled, jumbled or faulty data transmissions; failure of any email transmissions to be sent or received; lost, late, delayed or intercepted email transmissions; inaccessibility of the contest site in whole or in part for any reason; traffic congestion on the Internet or the contest site; unauthorized human or non-human intervention in the operation of the contest, including without limitation, unauthorized tampering, hacking, theft, virus, bugs, worms; or destruction of any aspect of the contest, or loss, miscount, misdirection, inaccessibility or unavailability of an email account used in connection with the contest.
  13. Use of contest site is at user’s own risk. Contest Sponsors are not responsible for any personal injury, property damage, or losses of any kind which may be sustained to computer equipment resulting from participation in the contest, use of the contest site or the downloading of information from the contest site.  By participating in the contest, the contestant releases Contest Sponsors from any and all claims arising from or relating to such contestant’s participation in the contest, whether directly or indirectly.
  14. Contest Sponsors are not liable in the event that any portion of the contest is cancelled or delayed due to weather, fire, strike, acts of war or terrorism, or any other reason.

[1] Throughout the contest rules, the term “sponsors” is used to represent either single or multiple sponsors, where applicable.

U.S. Embassy Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition Official Speech Contest Rules