MLK50 drop the Mic Symposium

The MLK50 Drop the Mic Poetry Slam and Syposium is designed for creatives to use their art for activism by taking a stand on important social issues today based on the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement of our past. This is the fourth year the Museum has hosted the Poetry Slam, but as part of the yearlong MLK50 Commemoration, the Museum is launching a two-day experience.  With the Symposium on the first day, the intent is to not only serve as a platform of expression, but also as a forum for creative solutions on important issues. Organizations working to bring about positive social change were invited to raise awareness and help artists bridge the gap between speaking “truth to power” and grassroots organizing and authentic activism. 

The Poetry Symposium will feature a MasterClass with Ed Mabrey, four-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, and will cover every aspect of spoken-word craft from inspiration and writing to performance and evaluation. 

Participants will have their choice of attending concurrent workshops led by notable artists such as Jasmine Mans, Natasha Hooper, Mackenzie Berry, Jonathan Samuel Eddie Perkins, Queen Sheba, and Sebastian Carson.  Workshops are constructed along four tracks – Activism, Youth Voice, Technique, and Business – and encompass a comprehensive range of topics including ways to use art to spark conversation and action in underrepresented communities, how to transform personal trauma into a catalyst for community change, and how to build a brand and generate revenue. 


Los Angeles-based poet, musician and activist, Propaganda will deliver a special Keynote message.  With LA flowing through his veins & armed with a bold message, Propaganda has assembled a body of work that challenges his listeners with every verse & reaches across the spectrum of pop culture.

The evening will wrap up with an Open Mic for workshop participants and facilitators.


Activist Marketplace

The Activist Marketplace (onsite during the Symposium) featuring organizations working to impact critical social issues provides the opportunity for attendees to connect directly with grassroots initiatives, community networks, and mobilization strategies – in place to engage participants at whatever level they choose.  Participating organizations include:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Mid-South Peace and Justice Center
  • Memphis Grassroots Organization Coalition
  • Show Me $15
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Memphis


Symposium schedule

  • 2:00pm – 3:00 pm    Registration
  • 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm    Activist Marketplace (Hooks Hyde Hall)
  • 3:00 pm – 3:25 pm    Welcome by Terri Lee Freeman, Museum President; Opening Plenary – MasterClass with Ed Mabrey

5-Minute Transition

  • 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm     SESSION 1 WORKSHOPS

    •    Activism Track – When Art Becomes Activism with Jasmine Mans

    •    Youth Voice Track – The Bridge Between Organizing & The Word with Mackenzie Berry

    •    Business Track – Poetry Is None of Your Business by Sebastian Carson

15-Minute Transition

  • 4:45 pm – 5:45pm     SESSION 2 WORKSHOPS 

    •    Activism Track – Art as Activism with Natasha Hooper

    •    Youth Voice Track – The Calm Before the Storm with Jonathan Samuel Eddie Perkins

    •    Technique Track – Performance and Writing with Bethsheba Rem a.k.a. Queen Sheba

15-Minute Transition

  • 6:00 – 7:00     Light Dinner in Hooks Hyde Hall; Plenary with Keynote Talk with Propaganda (Ford Auditorium)

10-Minute Transition

  • 7:10 – 8:00 pm     Closing Performance & Open Mic for workshop participants & facilitators

For inquiries contact