Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News
Eight Dallas elementary school students competed in the 21st Annual Gardere Martin Luther King Jr. Oratory Competition in front of a packed audience.
Elementary schoolchildren showed off their oratory skills on Friday.
Eight finalists for the 21st annual Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory competition presented original speeches in front of a packed audience at the Majestic Theater in Dallas.
Each finalist answered this year's question for this annual oral showdown honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "If you could talk directly to Dr. King about your dream for our future, what would you tell him?"
The fourth- and fifth-graders tackled the realities and hardships of daily life.
"I hate the fact that babies, little kids, families and the elderly have to go without eating because they can't afford to buy food," said Karyme Herrera, a fourth-grader at Frederick Douglass Elementary School.
They also discussed their idea of a perfect future.
"I have a dream that this world will be drug-free, unemployment-free," said Ahmad Crawford, a fourth-grader at Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary School.
For this year's winner, Chinelo King, it's gratitude toward the civil rights leader. He also took the time to highlight future aspirations of his own.
"I dream of becoming an engineer of mankind, an architect of great scholars and contractor of community service," said King, a fourth-grader at John Neely Bryan Elementary School.
King's parents and seven siblings supported him throughout the process.
"It was even more rewarding seeing him work on his speech," said Hamah King, his father. "The work ethic that he put forward really makes me proud."
How did King overcome his nervousness Friday?
"I just saw it, relaxed, and all the butterflies just went away," King said.
King won a $1,000 prize, and the rest of the finalists received a monetary gift in different amounts.
The annual competition is presented, hosted and sponsored by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP and the Dallas Independent School District.