OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A new HBO documentary will follow the monthslong efforts of Oakland children preparing for the annual MLK Oratorical Festival, where students honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through passionate speech and poems.
The documentary “We Are The Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest” is directed and producted by Amy Schatz, the Emmy Award-winning children’s series director, and executive produced by Academy Award winner and Oakland-born Mahershala Ali.
The project focuses on Oakland kids preparing for last year’s 40th annual festival as the youth find their voices within a community that celebrates and supports passion.
“Through interviews with the contestants and scenes of rehearsals and performances, the film reveals the deep connection the students make between King’s words and the world they live in,” read the official description on HBO’s website.
Oakland Unified School District’s Oratorical Festival happens every year and features pre-K through 12th grade students who perform poetry and speeches in honor of the legacy of Dr. King.
Students can either perform by themselves or in a group. They can choose to perform an original or a published monologue, poem, speech or scene. The finals for this year’s festival will be held on Feb. 23.
The festival was founded by Donald Oliver 41 years ago, according to OUSD’s website. He wanted to honor Dr. King while having students perform academically-stimulating oratorical skills, as he felt that testing and reading score data “did not truly lift up students’ comprehension and fluency skills and abilities.”
The documentary will air on HBO and HBO Go on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m.