Twelve schools participated in the U.S. Embassy’s Black History Month Secondary School Speech Competition. Students delivered outstanding speeches on a variety of topics related to issues surrounding race and African American culture and history. Queen’s College Fifth-form student, Khaleel Kothdiwala took the top prize with his speech discussing whether literary classics containing racist tones and/or racially offensive language should be removed from school reading lists. Second place went to the Lodge School’s Fifth-former Alexandria Harper, while Combermere School, represented by Fourth-former Zahra Trotman, placed third.
A panel compromising U.S. Embassy officials judged the competitors, who also included students from Springer Memorial Secondary School, The St. Michael School, Princess Margaret Secondary School, Christ Church Foundation School, Deighton Griffith Secondary School, Coleridge and Parry School, Alleyne School, The Ellerslie School, and Harrison College. The students all used the forum as a platform to share their perspectives and solutions.
In his opening remarks, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy to Barbados, Joaquin Monserrate gave the students some insight on the origins of Black History Month. He noted that speech and debate make up a vital part of America’s cultural fabric and highlighted the impressive legacy of powerful black orators in the United States, which goes back to the founding of the nation.
The winning school, Queen’s College received the top prize of an HP all-in-one computer. The top three students and supervising teachers received a prize package including a trophy, laptops, electronic tablets, Bluetooth speakers, and selected books on public speaking and great speeches in American and World History. The contest supported the U.S. Embassy’s goal of promoting education as a driver of sustainable economic growth, and as a means to foster innovation and empower youth.