Drop The Mic Poetry Slam & Symposium

As part of the MLK50 yearlong commemoration, the Drop the Mic Poetry Slam is a sanctioned event with the theme “Where Do We Go from Here?”  In his last years, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was focused on key social issues including poverty, justice, peace, decent housing, better jobs with higher wages and quality education–issues we are still addressing today. Now is the time to take a stand and use your voice. Let it be known what the New Civil Rights Movement means to you. 

May the art form of poetry be your outlet to express yourself, because your voice matters. Come out from the blanket of social media and make your way to the forefront. Use your words for enlightenment, healing, inspiration, and power.  Spoken word gives you the platform to shine light on what is right and what is wrong. Use your art for activism.

You have the opportunity to educate and bring awareness. Seize the moment.  Take it to the next level in answering the call, “Where Do We Go from Here?”  #MLK50NCRM, #NCRMDropTheMic

What is a poetry slam?

A poetry slam is conventionally defined as the art of competitive performance poetry. It's a competition at which poets recite original work.


The National Civil Rights Museum's 2017 Drop The Mic Poetry Slam and Symposium will be a TWO-DAY event this year.  Both the Symposium and the Slam are FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  Registration for the Symposium will be begin in early July.

the symposium

It kicks off with a free Symposium on Friday, August 18, at the Museum with workshops on key components on mechanics, expression, branding and the impact the art has on the community. The workshops are open to anyone who is serious about enhancing their creativity and engagement as a poet, spoken word artist or community activist.  


  • MasterClass by World Individual Spoken Word Champion ED MABREY
  • Keynote by Activist, Poet & Musician PROPAGANDA 
  • CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS facilitated by hot poets Queen Sheba, Jonathan  Samuel-Eddie, Jasmine Mans,
  • PropagandaNatasha Hooper, Mackenzie Berry & Sebastian Carson.
  • FREE & open to the public.  Dinner Served.


the slam

The competition, the big event, is on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The Slam will feature poets performing original works before an audience and a judging panel. The judges will determine the winner from points earned during the performances. A few non-competing poets and musical artists will perform at the event. The Slam will be hosted by a radio or TV personality.


  • 1ST PLACE: $1,500
  • 2ND PLACE: $1,000
  • 3RD PLACE: $750



Contact media@civilrightsmuseum.org.

How it Works

Event info, how to enter, age categories, and prizes.



Contest format, length of entry, judging criteria and finalist performance at the Museum.

View Rules


Deadline is TUESDAY, JULY 25. Click here to enter with your 2.5-minute (150 seconds) video link!



Here are some frequently asked questions.

View FAQs
Drop the Mic Performance Tips

Performance Tips

To some, dropping the mic may come naturally, but for those of you who are newcomers to the stage, let us offer some helpful hints to ensure that you give your best performance: 

  • Remember, this is a PERFORMANCE. Not just a reading. 
  • Know your poem. Rehearse it over and over before you take the stage for the Drop The Mic Poetry Slam. You want to be prepared. Your performance flows much better when you know your work well. 
  • Just reading your poem, although the content may be outstanding, will not be enough. Review the judging criteria (see “Rules” page) to be familiar with what the judges are looking for in scoring your performance. 
  • Engage the audience, even if you are reading your piece. Make eye contact. Don’t just look down at your notes. 
  • Memorizing is great if you are comfortable performing your piece that way. But, be sure to perform the piece several times without your notes and see if you’re better memorizing or knowing your piece really well, but reciting it with your paper handy. The worst thing to do is forget your poem and not have your paper as back up. 
  • If you read your poem, don’t just have the paper flying in the wind. Type your poem (so you can easily see it) and put it on large note cards or on paper in a folder so it looks like part of your performance. Not just something you pulled from your pocket or purse. 
  • Enunciate your words. The audience and especially the judges want and need to understand what you’re saying. 
  • Speak audibly and clearly. No mumbling! 
  • Watch your pacing. Don’t rush through or go too slow unless your piece calls for it.