Memphis, Tennessee, June 14, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Civil Rights Museum is inviting young poets and spoken word artists nationwide to qualify to compete in its fifth Drop the Mic Poetry Slam on Saturday, August 18, 2018. Additionally, there is a call for poetry/spoken word workshop facilitators for this year’s Symposium on Friday, August 17.

The Drop the Mic Poetry Slam and Symposuim is designed for creatives to use their art for activism by taking a stand on important social issues and engaging the community in a dialogue centered on change. April 4th of 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Leading into the commemoration, last year’s MLK50 Drop the Mic Poetry Slam addressed the critical issues Dr. King focused on in his final years. This year, the 2018 Drop the Mic Poetry Slam theme, “Freedom Forward,” asks the artists to present what true freedom is.

The two-day event provides seasoned and aspiring artists the opportunity to hone their craft in an empowering environment. The Symposium not only serves as a platform for expression, but also presents a forum to set forth creative solutions for critical issues. For the fifth year, the Slam will provide an opportunity for artists to interact with other members of the poetry community (including well-seasoned, renowned artists) in a historically significant setting.


“With the Drop the Mic Poetry Slam, we encourage thinking beyond basic art creation and performance of ideas to using art as a powerful platform for positive social change. Activitism though art– ARTivism.” said Faith Morris, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer, National Civil Rights Museum. “We’ve expanded the poetry slam each year, adding the symposium last year, to provide opportunitiues for artists at all levels to learn, perform, be exposed, recognized, and grow in their craft.”

Call for Poetry Slam Submissions

Qualifying poets and spoken word artists in the age categories of 14-17, 18-25 and 26-35 can compete for three top cash prizes: $1,500 first place, $1,000 second place, and $750 third place in each age group.

Slam submissions must be original works addressing the topic “Freedom Forward.” Each entrant must submit a YouTube or Vimeo video link in their online entry form. Videos should be 2.5 minutes or less. Videos longer than 2.5 minutes will be disqualified from entry. Only one entry per person will be considered. All videos must be received by Tuesday, July 13, 2018.

The top finalists will be selected and must perform their submitted piece in front of a panel of judges during the Drop the Mic Poetry Slam on Saturday, August 18, at the Paradise Entertainment Center in Memphis, TN. Winners in the three age catagories will be announced during the slam.  For more information and to enter, visit the museum’s Drop the Mic webpage.

Call for Workshop Proposals 

During the daylong Symposium, a series of one-hour workshops for poets of all ages in the areas of mechanics, expression, branding, and the impact that this art has on the positive social change will be attended by practicing and aspiring poets. Workshops will be presented by facilitators who have worked to help artists enhance creativity and develop necessary skills to perform, compete or publish their work. To be selected to present, facilitators must submit proposals with an overview of their proposed workshop including objectives, format, materials and engagement activities. Workshop collaborations with social activism and arts advocacy organizations is highly encouraged.  Facilitators will receive a $500 stipend.

Workshop proposal forms must be submitted by Monday, June 29, 2018. Facilitators of selected workshops will be asked to digitally submit workshop plans, presentation and handouts at least two weeks in advance. The symposium workshops will be presented on Friday, August 17, at the National Civil Rights Museum. For more information and to submit a proposal, visit the museum’s website.

The Drop the Mic Symposium will feature workshops and a panel led by award-winning poets and experts in the craft. Workshop participants are not required to be slam contestants. Both the Symposium on August 17 and the Slam on August 18 are free and open to the public. 

The hashtags for the the Mic Poetry Slam and Symposium are #NCRMDropTheMic and #NCRMFreedomForward, Social media shares and posts are encouraged.  For more information, visit

About the National Civil Rights Museum

The NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, gives a comprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to the present. Since the Museum opened in 1991, millions of visitors from around the world have come, including more than 90,000 students annually. Serving as the new public square, the Museum is steadfast in its mission to chronicle the American Civil Rights Movement, examine today’s global civil and human rights issues, provoke thoughtful debate and serve as a catalyst for positive social change.  

A Smithsonian Affiliate and an internationally acclaimed cultural institution, the Museum was recognized as TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 5% U.S. Museum, USA Today's Top 10 Best American Iconic Attractions; Top 10 Best Historical Spots in the U.S. by TLC's Family Travel; Must See by the Age of 15 by Budget Travel and Kids; Top 10, American Treasures by USA Today; and Best Memphis Attraction by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Business Journal

About Smithsonian Affiliations

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program that develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian resources. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a two-way relationship among the Affiliate organizations and the Smithsonian Institution to increase discovery and inspire lifelong learning in communities across America. More information about the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activity is available at

Connie Dyson
National Civil Rights Museum