Goshen College senior Jakyra Green’s speech claimed first prize in Mennonite Central Committee’s binational intercollegiate C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest, after winning at Goshen College’s contest in February 2023.
Green’s speech, titled “The Privilege of Peace,” focused on the illusion or privilege surrounding peace for Black people and their realities in America.
Green, an English and education major from Elkhart, received a $500 cash award plus $500 conference scholarship from MCC.
One binational judge wrote the following in comments on the binational contest scorecard, directed to Green: “Excellent, powerful delivery from beginning to end. You kept the audience engaged, appealed to their empathy and common humanity. Your tone and authenticity in speaking powerfully conveyed how personal and vital your comments and the topic are.”
Another judge noted the balance in several elements of the speech’s content: description with statistical support; connections to the local college community with connections to the larger society; and high-level framing with personal connection and narrative.
There were six finalists in the binational contest. Second place went to Micah Peters Unrau from Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and third place to Peter Buller from Bethel College, North Newton, Kansas.
The judges for this year’s contest were Rebecca Hernandez (MCC U.S. Organization Development and Racial Equity Director), Kerry Saner-Harvey (Indigenous-Settler Relations Coordinator for MCC Canada, Manitoba), and Nathan Hosler (Director of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness).
In 1974, the directors of the C. Henry Smith Trust established a Peace Oratorical Contest in the name of the late C. Henry Smith. C. Henry Smith was a Mennonite historian and professor at Goshen College and Bluffton College and had deep interest in the Mennonite peace position. The directors felt that an oratorical contest would be a fitting way to foster continuing thought about peace issues and would also provide a mechanism for making these views known.