Paul Robeson Oratory and Arts competition seeks entrants

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Photo courtesy of The Paul Robeson House
Paul Robeson (center), an All-American athlete, singer, actor and advocate for civil rights.

Middle school students in Princeton, Lawrence and Mercer County will have a chance to show off their oratorical and artistic skills in the second annual Paul Robeson Oratorical and Arts competition.

The event is aimed at boys in 7th and 8th grades, according to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Zeta Iota Lambda chapter. The fraternity is sponsoring the competition.

Robeson, who was born in Princeton, was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. It is the first fraternity for Black men and was organized in 1906. Robeson was an actor, singer, orator and social activist.

The competition’s topic is “Paul Robeson’s Perspectives of the World Today.” Entries may be speeches or a live performance of a song or dance, or a display of visual art, such as a drawing, painting, filmmaking or photography.

“The reason for the competition is to empower young men by encouraging them to use their voice in a concise and clear manner. They will also gain experience in public speaking and improve their communication skills,” said Philip Parker, the fraternity’s director of Education Activities.

“We also wanted to encourage the boys to research the many accomplishments of Paul Robeson. The question posed to them gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of current social and political issues,” Parker said.

Oratorical submissions will be a recorded video speech of 30 to 60 seconds.

Performance art submissions will be a recorded video of the entry, between 30 and 60 seconds long. For visual art entries, it must be a draft, sketch, blueprint or storyboard of the entry.

All contestants must write a description of 100 to 300 words that describes their interest in the competition, and also celebrating Robeson’s legacy.

Seven finalists each will be chosen from among the oratorical and performance art submissions. They will make in-person presentations at the Paul Robeson Center in Princeton on April 13.

The deadline to upload submissions and virtual presentations is Jan. 31.

For more information or questions, contact the fraternity by email at [email protected].