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Students give inspiring messages at Joseph Vaughn Oratorical Competition

posted Feb 24, 2015, 5:49 PM by Bobby Clark   [ updated Feb 24, 2015, 8:39 PM ]
Greenville, South Carolina - Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation and Furman University again gave Upstate youth a showcase for their oratorical skills at the annual Joseph Vaughn Oratorical Competition on Saturday, February 21st at Furman University's Burgiss Theater. Seven orators competed in the event and spoke on the theme " “How we can contribute to the building of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community in today’s world?”

"Building the Beloved Community" has been a central theme of all the events honoring of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. held by the partnership between Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation and Furman University since 2007. The Beloved Community is a concept spoken about by Dr. King as the ideal aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement.
2015 Joseph Vaughn
Oratorical Competition Winners
[left to right] Ms. Kyrah I. Brown (2nd Place), Ms. Tyler Kelly (1st Place), Mr. Ryan J. Putman (3rd Place)
The orators give their interpretations of that concept with a modern day view of today's events. The results were uplifting messages which spoke about the recent conflicts in America today from Ferguson shootings and protests to the possible SCSU closing. "It is the kind of message we hoped to inspire with our youth" said Keith Barksdale, Foundation Chair, "Every year we have heard great messages and this year was no exception".

About fifty people attended the event, and over $1,000 in prize money was awarded to top place finishers. All participants received a certificate for participating and $50 for their efforts. This final competition is the result of a month-long process where the Brothers of Gamma Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha invited and then coached participants on their speeches. 

Joe Vaughn-Small
This competition is named in a honor of Mr. Joseph Vaughn, the first African-American student enrolled at Furman in 1965. Vaughn was a Greenville
native and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and was well known for his language and oratory skills. "He was a person who knew the English language and how to use it." said Chandra Dillard, Director of Community Relations at Furman. "You would often need to refer to a dictionary after hearing his speeches". Furman University commemorating 50 years of campus desegregation.

Community volunteers served as judges and Upsilon Alpha Chapter, the local College Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at USC Upstate had roles as presiding host and tabulator during the event. Below are this year's winners and a list of all of participants. Thank you to all of our contestants and their families as well as our great sponsors for the financial support they gave for this event.

2015 Joseph Vaughn Competition Orators



Ms. Tyler Kelly - 1st Place
Southside High School
12th Grade

Ms. Kyrah I. Brown - 2nd Place
Riverside High School
11th Grade


Mr. Ryan J. Putman - 3rd Place
Christ Church Episcopal School
10th Grade


Ms. Royal Ranciana Carter
Wade Hampton High School
12th Grade

Mr. Billy Gist
J.L. Mann Academy of Math, Science, and Technology
12th Grade

Mr. Jarod Wright
Woodmont High School
12th Grade

Mr. Javien Womack
Woodmont High School
9th Grade


Bobby Clark,
Feb 24, 2015, 5:49 PM