Nigerian human rights activist Hafsat Abiola signs an autograph during the 2019 Freedom Award Student Forum at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley/TSD Archives)

The National Civil Rights Museum and Memphis-based International Paper are accepting applications for this year’s Keeper of the Dream Award, which annually salutes Greater Memphis-area in grades 6-12 that have demonstrated a commitment to making lives better for others.

Students can apply on the National Civil Rights Museum’s website by September 10.

Now in its 18th year, the Keeper of the Dream Award is inspired by the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, which honors men and women globally who are recognized for their work in the struggle for civil and human rights.

The Keeper of the Dream Award recognizes young people who have demonstrated extraordinary courage, compassion, leadership and service and are forging paths to expand opportunities for others.

“The Keeper of the Dream Award celebrates students who are role models for all of us,” said Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, International Paper senior manager, global corporate social responsibility and community engagement, and executive director of the IP Foundation.

“We are looking forward to celebrating this year’s up and coming youth leaders who are making a difference in their communities.”

The Keeper of the Dream award returns after its hiatus last year due to the pandemic.

“We know there are numerous young people throughout the Mid-South who have worked to empower and improve their communities,” said Dr. Noelle Trent, museum director of Interpretation, Collections and Education and Student Forum managing producer.

Award recipients will be recognized at the virtual Freedom Award Student Forum on October 14, 2021.

Two winners in grades 6-8 and two winners in grades 9-12 will each receive $500, a trophy and a one-year family membership for up to five people to the National Civil Rights Museum. Relatives of International Paper and National Civil Rights Museum employees are not eligible.

The Student Forum is the opening event for the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award celebration, which honors individuals worldwide for their work in the advancement of civil and human rights. The program allows students and educators the opportunity to hear from civil rights trailblazers, who share how they were able to accomplish extraordinary things because of their commitment to equality, justice and freedom.

Located at the historic Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the museum opened in 1991. Millions of visitors from around the world have come, including more than 90,000 students annually.