We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest

Every year, hundreds of children in pre-K through 12th grade participate in the Oakland MLK Oratorical Festival, a stirring public speaking competition where they perform poetry and speeches, both published and original, inspired by the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Directed and produced by Emmy-winner Amy Schatz (In the Shadow of the Towers, Song of Parkland) and executive produced by Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali (True Detective), We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest is an uplifting documentary about young people finding their voices and the community that celebrates and supports their passion. 

Focusing on the Oakland Unified School District’s MLK Oratorical Festival in California—one of many oratorical competitions that take place across the country—the documentary follows students from schools across the city in the months leading up to the 40th annual festival as they hone their speeches, hoping for a coveted spot in the finals. 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.

HBO Documentary Films presents We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest directed by Amy Schatz; produced by Amy Schatz and Diane Kolyer; executive produced by Julie Anderson. For Know Wonder: executive producers Mahershala Ali, Amatus Karim Ali, Mimi Valdés. For HBO: senior producer, Sara Rodriguez;  executive producers, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller.