South Main was alive as more than 300 people watched 26 young poets bridge gaps between hip-hop, millennials and past civil rights movements at the National Civil Rights Museum Drop the Mic Poetry Slam.
The Saturday night (Feb. 22nd) slam, part of the National Civil Rights Museum's spring 2014 grand reopening events, was a creative outlet for youth throughout the region to express their views on freedom and involve themselves in current civil rights issues. The theme for the night was "My Freedom Is," where students from as far as Bolivar, Miss. performed poems that addressed issues such as slavery, segregation, war, poverty and education.
First place winner Markuitta Washington, a Rust College alumnae, was ecstatic about winning.
"I'm so grateful that the judges thought what I had to say about freedom and civil rights is meaningful; that's what means the most to me," said Washington.
First, second and third place prizes were awarded in two age categories, with the top prize being $1,000 and a family membership to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Students performed their original pieces for a panel of celebrity judges, including Memphis poet and radio personality Aisha Raison, Memphis native and multi-platinum hip-hop producer Drumma Boy and Danny Simmons, co-creator of HBO's "Def Poetry Jam."
"They were talking about all the work that their grandparents and great grandparents did for the freedoms they have today and how appreciative they are of it," said Simmons, explaining that he was most intrigued by how the students related historic aspects of the civil rights movement to current issues.
"They brought some substance to their poetry; I loved every moment of it."
The winning students will perform their pieces at the National Civil Rights Museum's grand reopening Community Day celebration on April 5th, 2014.
(For more information, contact the National Civil Rights Museum Grand Reopening event coordinator Latrivia Nelson at 901-278-0881.)