Nationwide Poetry Slam Gives Poets Platform on “Freedom Forward”

Deadline for 5th Annual Drop the Mic Poetry Slam is July 13

Memphis, Tennessee, UNITED STATES

Memphis, TN, July 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Civil Rights Museum is inviting young poets and spoken word artists nationwide to use poetry for activism by qualifying to compete in its 5th Annual Drop the Mic Poetry Slam on Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 4pm. The deadline for spoken word artists ages 14-35 to submit a performance video of their original spoken word piece is Friday, July 13.

Qualifying poets and spoken word artists in the age categories of 14-17, 18-25 and 26-35 will compete for three top cash prizes: $1,500 first place, $1,000 second place, and $750 third place in each age group. The poets will be judged on content, orginiality, audience engagement, overall performance quality and their work’s adherence to the theme “Freedom Forward.” 

In the 50th year since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, the museum continues to emphasize the issues King pursued in the last years of his life. The poetry slam is a vehicle for keeping issues like freedom of speech, justice, equality and civil disobedience top of mind through the theme, “Freedom Forward.” Poets can unapologetically use their art as activism to address questions like:

  • “In today’s climate, what does it mean to be free?”
  • “How is our freedom threathened or denied.”
  • “How do we take back our rights?”
  • “How do we push Freedom Forward for others?”

“The Drop the Mic Poetry Slam has served to give a creative platform for artists through their poetry,” said Faith Morris, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer, National Civil Rights Museum. “It’s one of the most extraordinary experiences seeing the original works of young poets expressing their sentiments on prevailing issues and activism through art. This time we’re focused on “Freedom Forward” to effect positive social change. There’s much to be said about this topic!” 

“With so many Americans feeling as if they aren't heard or worse, won't be heard, the Drop The Mic Poetry Symposium and Slam gives them an opportunity to express their freedom of speech in a constructive manner,” said Ed Mabrey, four-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and event performer/workshop facilitator. “What does it mean to be free, is my freedom threatened and, most importantly, how do we push freedom forward for others are relevant questions the attendees and poets are being asked and answering. I think America should tune in and discover what its14-35 years of age citizens have to say. The workshops will equip attendees to be better artists.  The slam equips us to be better communicators.”

“The Drop the Mic Poetry Slam is important for the community because it offers an additional platform for poets across the world to showcase their gifts,” said Carin Malone, one of the 2017 grand prize winners. “Winning the Drop the Mic Poetry Slam has allowed my name to go down in history for doing something I really love and that’s being a positive voice and representation for Memphis.”

To qualify as a slam contestant, each entrant must submit a YouTube or Vimeo video link in an online entry form by July 13. Videos should be no longer than 2.5 minutes or be disqualified. Only one entry per person will be considered.

In order to win, the top finalists must perform in front of a panel of judges during the slam on Saturday, August 18, 4pm at the historic Paradise Entertainment Center.  For more information and to enter, visit the museum’s Drop the Mic webpage.

The hashtags for the 5th Annual Drop the Mic Poetry Slam #NCRMDropTheMic and #FreedomForward. 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


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