About the Oratorical Contest
The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. Since 1938, the program has presented participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship. The program has featured numerous politicians and prominent contestants over the years, including former president candidate Alan Keyes and CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.
Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students.
The American Legion continue to be an elimination system featuring nine first-round quarter-final contests, three second-round semi-final contests and a national finals contest involving three finalists.
Effective in 2020 the scholarship award structure for the annual national oratorical contest of The American Legion will be $188,000 as follows:
- • Up to 53 department winners competing in the first-round quarter-final contest receive $2,000 each
- • Up to 15 first-round winners advancing to the second-round semi-final contest who are subsequently eliminated receive $2,000 each
- • First place national contest winner receives $20,000
- • Second place national contest winner receives $17,000
- • Third place national contest winner receives $15,000
Effective in 2021 the scholarship award for the first place national oratorical contest winner will increase to $25,000; the second place national oratorical contest winner will increase to $22,500; and the third place national oratorical contest winner increase to $20,000, for a total of $203,500 in scholarships awarded for the annual national oratorical contest of The American Legion.
The American Legion’s National Organization awards the scholarships, which can be used at any college or university in the United States.
High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition. Legion department representatives certify one winner per state to the national contest, where department winners compete against each other in two speaking rounds. The contest caps off with a final round that decides the three top finishers.
Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government. Speeches are eight to 10 minutes long; three- to five-minute speeches on an assigned topic also are part of the contest.
The 2020 Department Oratorical Contest will be held Saturday March 7th at 1:00 pm at Historic Old Courthouse on 51 South University Ave. in Provo Utah.
Annual Oratorical Timeline