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Youth Speaks on Voting

Teen speaks with passion, eloquence
Speech on blacks voting wins oratory contest
By Heather Barr

Leighton Roye, 16, a Danbury High School junior, competes in the Alpha Phi Alpha Oratory Competition held at Bethel AME Church in Bloomfield.
Leighton Roye, 16, stood at a podium wearing a suit and tie Saturday evening, urging blacks to get out and vote.

Roye, a junior at Danbury High School, wanted listeners at the crowded Bloomfield church to remember the importance of voting each vote can elect a representative who can stand up for the issues they feel are important.

"I started off saying how voting is a right that is important to exercise, a right we haven't had forever," Roye said Tuesday. "We have this right. People die for it. We need to use it as much as we can."

Roye was one of nine competitors participating in Alpha Phi Alpha's oratory competition during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Each competitor wrote and presented a speech on blacks and voting.

Roye scored the most points for his speech, winning the competition. He received a $2,500 savings bond and a trophy.

"I was pretty happy, pretty surprised," he said.

This is the second year for the competition held by the black fraternity's Beta Sigma Lambda chapter of the greater Hartford area.

Roye learned about the competition in October from English teacher Andee Nunn at Danbury High School.

"I noticed the topic, and I know this young man is extremely eloquent and charismatic," Nunn said.

Roye accepted the challenge and began doing research. He then wrote the speech in two days.

In December, he received some tips and pointers about public speaking at workshops held in Hartford. He also had a mentor, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brother Carl Walton, 45, of Granby.

Walton told Roye about his experiences speaking before audiences and worked with Roye on his speech's delivery and presentation. Every competitor had to memorize their speech.

"He took the stuff I did and improved upon it," Walton said. "Words can't express how proud I am of Leighton."

Roye said he hopes to join Alpha Phi Alpha in college and wants to major in business marketing at Florida A&M University.

Roye participates in football, lacrosse and track teams at Danbury High School, is the junior class vice president and participates in the YMCA group Youth In Government, but he feels particularly proud of this speaking award.

"This is something I can carry with me the rest of my life," Roye said.

His mother, Billie Roye, was pleasantly surprised and proud of her son's achievement.

"He did a lot of research," she said. "He was well prepared. He made me cry."

Wrapping up his speech, he pleaded with blacks to get out and register to vote.

Roye would like to do more speaking in the future. He hopes to give this speech to others and spread his message to black youth.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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