Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

Official student newspaper of Alabama State University

The Hornet Tribune

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Tracy V. Banks Memorial Oratorical Contest amplifies student voices

Justin B. Freeman
Chioma Kalu, winner of the persuasive speech category, talked about racism and how much better the world would be without it.

Alabama State University’s College of Health Sciences Auditorium reverberated with the powerful orations from aspiring student speakers at the annual Tracy V. Banks Memorial Oratorical Contest on April 18th.

Starting from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., this annual showcase provided a platform for participants to articulate their perspectives on thought-provoking societal issues.  There were two areas of competition:  persuasive and informative.

Judges for the event was Janel B. Haynes, Ed.D., Jacqueline Trimble, Ph.D. and Dr. Allen Dunlap.

In the persuasive speaking category, Chioma Kalu’s impassioned speech advocated for transcending racism through “enlightenment, education, and mental reorientation.” As she powerfully said, “Let us win back our freedom and let us rise above racism together.”

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Imani Jeanlys placed second in the persuasive speaking category, sounding the alarm about children’s exposure to inappropriate online content and calling for greater parental involvement.

“Children are vulnerable at their age and can become desensitized to the implications of the actions that are exposed to inappropriate content,” she said.

Calandrea Carter placed third in the persuasive category. (Justin B. Freeman)

Third place winner Calandrea Carter made a compelling case for voting for the Biden-Harris administration based on their support for HBCUs, women’s health research, and Black home ownership.

“The administration has already taken historic actions to support HBCUs, including investing over $7 billion to address funding inequities, support students, and promote diversity in the teacher workforce,” Carter said.

Emily Seals, a sophomore communications major, found the diverse topics “thought-provoking and inspiring.” She said, “I would love to challenge myself to participate in an event like this to showcase my writing and oral skills!”

A’vandia Fedd, a freshman forensic chemistry major, thought that the event and topics were important for today’s society as a Black historically Black college and university student.

“This event is a great way to display confidence and opinions – I would think about doing something like this,” she said.  “If I was not sure that my anxiety would overwhelm me.”

The informative speaking portion featured equally gripping presentations. Harmony Stroud took first place, educating the audience about “Eldest Daughter Syndrome” and healthy ways to overcome excessive familial responsibilities from a young age.

“Many people do not know about this issue, but with awareness, people will be able to understand others more,” she insisted.

Jasean Allen’s second place speech explored both the economic empowerment and relationship strains social media can create in the Black community.

“Social media in the Black community can be a gift and a curse,” he said. “Being able to make all the money and create all the narratives but then also, social media in the black community can destroy relationships and create unhealthy addictions.”

Professor Carlos Morrison, Ph.D., the contest coordinator noted the reason for sponsoring this event.

“Public speaking is a process – competitions allow students to practice delivery on a bigger stage.” Highlighting the profound impact, he said, “Dr. Banks understood the assignment – she knew students needed to speak and compete.”

As the event concluded, Brenda J. Gill, Ph.D., interim chairwoman of the Communications Department, commended the scholars’ achievements. Her rousing remarks captured the perseverance embodied throughout the contest.

“Sometimes we can’t speak because there’s something stopping us – without students, I’m not sure what kind of contest we’ll have,” she said.

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