The National Civil Rights Museum will host an award-winning lineup of spoken word artists at its Drop the Mic Poetry Slam and Poetry Symposium on August 17-18. 

Both events are free and open to the public. They are designed to stimulate youth participation in modern community dialogue and grassroots activism centered on the social justice legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

This year’s Drop the Mic events are centered around the theme “Freedom Forward.” Artists are challenged to go beyond identifying issues and to use their gifts to enlighten, educate and inspire the audience to move. The goal is to have participants connect with other artists while exploring the reward that self-expression brings in determining one’s self-worth, examining relevant issues and developing solutions individually and collectively.

 “We’re bringing (art)ivists from all over the country who have used their platforms for activism through art to enlighten, engage and motivate awareness, understanding and action around issues impacting families, individuals and our communities,” said Faith Morris, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer, National Civil Rights Museum.

“Through their powerful words and performances, they stir up anger, sadness, joy, concern – emotions that leave you wanting to, needing to reflect on your own circumstances or those around you. It’s truly something to see and experience.” 

This year’s Drop the Mic Slam and Symposium will feature appearances by J. Ivy, the Chicago-based poet, actor and activist, who rose to fame after appearing on Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Poetry.  Ivy has a passion for healing the community through his Dear Father Letters campaign, where he encourages children and adults to confront the pain of growing up without a father and to embrace the forgiving catharsis that writing offers. 

A MasterClass with Ed Mabrey will kick off the Drop the Mic events during the Symposium.  Emmy-winner and four-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion, Mabrey is returning to the symposium to lead the MasterClass entitled the “Fine Art of Being an Artist,” and a workshop on what it takes to become a full-time writer/artist. He will also perform at the Slam for the third year.

In addition, symposium features workshops led by notable artists such as Bethsheba “Queen Sheba” Rem, Jasmine Mans, Jonathan “Samuel Eddie” Perkins, and Mackenzie Berry.  Workshops are constructed along four tracks – Activism, Youth, Technique, and Business.

The Symposium will also include a panel discussion that will allow attendees to connect with artists about turning an art form into a mechanism for action. The Symposium will take place on Friday, August 17 at 4 p.m. Registration, online or onsite starting at 3 p.m., is strongly encouraged.

The Drop the Mic Poetry Slam is a showcase of young artists presenting their original poems based on the “Freedom Forward” theme. Participants were selected from a pool of applicants and will compete for first, second and third place in three age categories (14-17, 18-25, and 26-35) before a panel of judges for cash prizes up to $1,500.

 The Poetry Slam is Saturday, August 18, at 4 p.m. at the Paradise Entertainment Center.  Doors open at 3 p.m. for general seating. RSVP at civilrightsmuseum.org.