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Drop The Mic Poetry Slam & Symposium

As the museum continues to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 50th year since his death, we seek solutions to the issues he addressed in the last year's of his life.  To finish the work Dr. King started, now is the time to take a stand and use your voice. 

This year’s Drop the Mic theme, “Freedom Forward,” unapologetically pushes the envelope forward for artists and activists by delving into questions like:

  • In today’s climate, what does it mean to be free? 
  • How is our freedom being threatened or denied? 
  • What is my role as a young person in the movement to be free?
  • How do I take back my rights? 
  • What are the necessary resources for freedom?
  • How do I push Freedom Forward for others?

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 to action to move #FreedomForward at the 5th annual #NCRMDropTheMic Poetry Slam.

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 2018 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 begin in early July.

the symposium

It kicks off with a free Symposium on Friday, August 17, 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 Seasoned Artist
  • Keynote by Seasoned Artist
  • CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS facilitated by hot poets
  • and an OPEN MIC.
  • FREE & open to the public.  Dinner Served.


the slam

The competition, the big event, is on Saturday, August 18, 2018. 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 seasoned poet or 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 13. 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.