Joseph Vaughn Oratorical Competition

This competition for Local High School Students is co-sponsored by Furman University and Alpha Phi Alpha Greenville Foundation.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage oratorical skills among students in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King and Mr. Joseph Vaughn, who was the first African-American student at Furman University.

The Competition is split into preliminary judging and a final competition in which the student will ask to deliver their speech. Contestants are judged on Speech Development, Effectiveness, Correctness, Speech Value. Final elements will add physical appearance, voice, mannerism, and appropriateness to the judging criteria.

The contest was first held in 2008 at the Chapel on Furman University's campus. A theme is selected by MLK Planning Committee each year and several prizes are given to participants based on they are judged in the Contest. Full details for this year's competition include the contest packet (below).

Finals of Oratorical Competition in 2008

Announcing Winners at the
2014 JVOC Competition

Upcoming Event:

February 27, 2021, 10 AM

Register at

(Rescheduled from February 21, 2021)

See Guidelines at the bottom of this page

  • Deadlines for Entry: Jan 22, 2021

  • Deadlines for Speeches: Jan 29, 2021

speeches are dues on that date.

  • February 13, 2021 Preliminary Competition

    • (If needed, more than 15 contestants) TBD

  • February 17, 2021- Feedback Session

    • Competition is limited to 35 Participants

The theme for 2021 is ...

“Political Corruption, Systemic Racism, and COVID-19: What role can I play in these challenging times?"

Event Chairs:

Mike Chatman

Alpha Phi Alpha Foundation (864) 735-0880

Chandra Dillard

Furman University (864) 294-2503

Brief History of Joseph Vaughn's Enrollment at Furman University

On February 2, 1965, four African-Americans enrolled at Furman. Three were graduate students in education; the other was freshman Joe Vaughn. Mr. Vaughn's enrollment was the result of a concerted effort to enroll him which started in 1963.

Vaughn proved to be a model student. An English major, he excelled in class, served as head cheerleader, coordinated important campus forums, and volunteered in the Service Corps. Witty and outgoing, he made friends quickly and easily. His smile was like a beam of sunlight; it radiated warmth and joy.

After graduating from Furman, Vaughn went on to earn master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina and the University of Georgia. From 1969 to 1982 he taught in the Greenville County schools, and in 1981 he was elected president of the South Carolina Education Association, a position he held for almost a decade. He died in 1991, having contracted inoperable cancer.

Taken from "Furman University: Furman Remembers Its Trailblazer"