May: Celebrating Law Day and the Right to Vote!

Our topic for May is celebrating Law Day. The United States recognizes May 1st as Law Day to honor advocates in the legal field. Indeed, lawyers like Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and so many others have dedicated their lives to advocate for the rights of others. This May 2020, the American Bar Association topic commemorates the centennial of the 19th Amendment which guarantees that the right of citizens to vote would not be denied or abridged by the account of sex. Across the globe, women as well as every other group have dedicated their lives to win the right to vote. But still across the globe, so many individuals are denied the right to vote. And so our topic for May is on what the right to vote means to you.

Topic Choice #1: What does the right to vote mean to you?

You can address any topics relating to voting: the history of the right to vote, individuals denied the right to vote, what the right to vote means to you, historical groups and individuals who won the right to vote, or what would you do with your right to vote (ie what laws would you pass?). This year is the 100th year anniversary of the 19th Amendment (Women's right to vote) in the United States. Finally, you can address problems in voting ie does your vote count, obstacles to voting, voter turn out, gerrymandering, requirements of voting and other problems of voting.  

Topic Choice #2: What does the Law mean to you?

Alternatively, you can select the legal topic of your choice? If you were the leader of your country, what law would you pass? What law would you reject? How would you reform the legal system?  Your thoughts on international law and treaties?  Should we have international laws? Identify a lawyer in the present or the past who has made the world a better place (ie Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and many other civil rights leaders were lawyers). 

The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men. - President Lyndon B. Johnson, statement upon signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves -- and the only way they could do this is by not voting. - President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens. - Howard Zinn

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead, Author, Speaker, Anthropologist

The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it. - John Lewis, Civil Rights Leader and US Congressional Representative

There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters.  - President Barack Obama

Deadline: May 31st

Each of our tournaments will kick off on the 1st of each month and end on the last day of each month. Students have a month to prepare and submit a speech. Please submit all entries by the end of day. Unfortunately, we cannot accept late entries for fairness to all participants. 

Original Oratory Tournament

Students record and submit a 1-5 minute video speech delivering an original speech on the monthly topic. Please review our guidelines before submitting. Students can participate in both events of Original Oratory and Speechwriting. 

Speechwriting Tournament

Students submit a written speech on the monthly topic. Elementary students should submit a 200-500 word count speech. Middle School, High School and College should submit a 500-1000 word count speech. Students can participate in both Tournaments of Original Oratory and Speechwriting. 


Everyone is a Winner: The #1 fear of the majority of adults is public speaking. So whether you participate in one of our tournaments, or our tournaments every month - you are already a winner and developing lifelong skills. Public Speaking is one of the most powerful superpowers in the world! 

Certificates of Participation: Online Certificates of Participation for all students.

Medals, Ribbons, Trophies. Ribbons, Medals and Trophies are awarded and mailed to the top winners of each division. Divisions include: Elementary School Division, Middle School Division, High School Division, and Collegiate Division. *Please note because of the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine rules, we estimate we will be mailing out awards this summer (July/August). *

School Sweepstakes Awards: Trophies and/or medals are awarded to the schools with the most entries.  The First Place School in addition to their Sweepstakes Award will win a $100 Pizza Party Gift for their Great Debaters and Teachers!

Public Showcase. Top awardees will be featured on our website, social media, and e-newsletters.

* Please note that because this is a free program, we reserve the right at any time to change or cancel any events, awards, certificates. If the number of entries exceeds our volunteer and judge capacity, we reserve the right to limit the number of entries. Additionally, we are not responsible for any lost awards, ribbons, medals, trophies, gift cards, etc. Please understand as a free program managed by volunteers, we reserve the right at anytime to change or cancel any part of our program. And please share with us any feedback so that we can improve our program.

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2020 NYC Elementary School Speech & Debate League