Young Poets Are Invited to Participate in the National Civil Rights Museum Drop The Mic Poetry Slam

The National Civil Rights Museum is looking for young poets to share their creative thoughts at the museum’s first Drop the Mic Poetry Slam. The theme, ”My Freedom Is,” will be the basis for the original poetry performed during the competition to be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014, as a part of the museum’s grand reopening celebration.
Finalists will be chosen from spoken word artists in two age categories: 15-18 year olds and 19-25 year olds. The top three winners per category will compete for top prizes of $1,000, $750 and $500, an annual museum membership and branded gifts. The winners will be among the featured artists at the National Civil Rights Museum’s Community Day Kickoff event during the grand reopening celebration on Saturday, March 1.
“As we unveil our most significant renovation that integrates cutting-edge technology and interactive exhibits, we encourage young people to join us in a journey of discovery,” said Beverly Robertson, National Civil Rights Museum President. “Our exhibits portray stories in the voices of the men and women of the civil rights movement. With the Poetry Slam we will hear young poets tell us, in their own words, how the quest for freedom, justice and equality impacts their lives.”

Submissions must be original works based on each entrant’s perspective on the topic “My Freedom Is….” Each entrant must submit a video along with their online registration. Video should be no longer than two minutes and include name, email, hometown and age. Only one entry per person will be considered. All videos must be received by February 7, 2014. For more information on criteria and to become a contestant for the Drop the Mic Poetry Slam visit:


School matches, including two new high schools, made following three-month community engagement process

Today, following a three-month community engagement process, the Achievement School District (ASD) announced its 2014-15 school matches.  The list includes two new high schools—Fairley High School and Frayser High School—three elementary schools, and a start-up middle school.

“The feedback we received from parents, teachers, and community members was incredibly helpful in making these matches, and we are excited to officially welcome these new schools into the ASD,” said Chris Barbic, ASD superintendent.  “Over the last few months it’s been great to see our new charters— a mix of both local and national organizations, all led by amazing educators—deepen existing relationships and build new ones in communities across Memphis.  Now that school matching decisions have been made, these educators are ready to continue the important work necessary to prepare for a terrific 2014-15 school year.”

Charter operators Aspire Public Schools, Freedom Preparatory Academy, Promise Academy, Frayser Community Schools, KIPP Memphis, and Green Dot Public Schools will be running new ASD schools next year.  All but KIPP—which will have a “new start” school—were partnered with existing neighborhood Priority schools (in the bottom 5%) as part of this year’s school matching process.  “Last year, we had our first 5 schools in Memphis, and next year, we will grow to serve 22,” said Barbic.  “This translates into thousands more students in Memphis who were zoned to attend a Priority School now with an opportunity to attend a school that will better prepare them for success in college, careers, and life.”

For the second year in a row, the Achievement Advisory Council (AAC)—a group of twenty-five volunteers representing neighborhoods across Memphis—led the community engagement process that informed the school matches.  “From September to this Monday, when we made our recommendations, we have been meeting and talking with community stakeholders and parents, and it’s clear how much they care about their neighborhood schools and want what’s best for kids,” said Katrice Peterson,  an AAC member.


Schools joining the ASD next school year




Coleman Elementary

Aspire Public Schools


Spring Hill Elementary

Promise Academy


Westwood Elementary

Freedom Prep Academy


Frayser High School

Frayser Community Schools


Fairley High School

Green Dot Public Schools


KIPP (new start)

KIPP Memphis


Note: Pathways in Education—Memphis, an alternative school, will open this January and serve grades 7-12


About the ASD

The Achievement School District—a state-wide public school district formed in 2011 as part of Tennessee’s winning Race to the Top application—is dedicated to moving the bottom 5% of schools in the state (Priority Schools) to the top 25% in five years.  The ASD is both an operator of schools—running six schools in Frayser in 2013-2014—and an authorizer of high quality public charter schools.  This year, there are 16 schools in the ASD—15 in Memphis and 1 in Nashville—serving over 4,500 students in grades Pre-K through 9th.

 About the 2014-15 charter operators 

 Freedom Preparatory Academy

Freedom Preparatory Academy is a local charter school serving students and families in the Whitehaven and Westwood neighborhoods of southwest Memphis. With a slogan of “Education is Freedom,” the mission of Freedom Prep is to prepare students for success in college and life. Freedom Prep currently serves a 100% minority student population, 86% of which qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. In 2012, Freedom Prep was the only charter school in the Memphis City School district to be honored with “Reward School” status by the state for academic proficiency and growth, and was recognized by SCORE as one of the best middle schools in the State. The charter school strives for results through rigorous academic expectations such as double blocks of math and reading, an extended school day and year, and required after school tutoring, intervention, and homework support. Alongside the academic culture, Freedom Prep also incorporates a set of five core values: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Excellence, and Community. The theory behind the Academy’s core values is that character development is essential to preparing all students to excel in education and the professional world.


Green Dot Public Schools

Green Dot Public Schools is a non-profit public charter school network of 19 middle and high schools serving more than 10,000 students in the Los Angeles area. Green Dot schools are publicly funded, free to attend, and open to all students. Each Green Dot school shares the common mission of preparing students for “college, leadership and life.” Based on California’s Academic Performance Index – a comprehensive measurement of academic performance that includes attendance and graduation rates – Green Dot schools have shown sustained growth in student achievement exceeding comparable public schools in similar neighborhoods. Among Green Dot’s 14 high schools, the two- or four-year college acceptance rate of graduating seniors was 86% (compared to a 67.6% college enrollment rate of students in the same region of California).  What makes Green Dot unique as a major charter management organization is the achievement of better student results with a statistically similar student population, lower funding than the surrounding district schools, and a unionized workforce. Green Dot has even led a turnaround of a high school with more than 3,000 students—the largest single-school turnaround in the country.


Frayser Community Schools

Frayser Community Schools, launching Martin Luther King Jr. Preparatory (MLK Prep) in fall 2014, is seeking to reach high school students in the Frayser community of Memphis, TN.  MLK Prep’s mission is to prepare students for success in college, careers, and their community through a rigorous academic program and an emphasis on discipline, character, and service.  MLK Prep will use a small and supportive environment and extended school day and year to reach the students of Frayser. Leading the charge is Bobby White, Jr., a native of Frayser who has also served as a teacher and middle school principal in the neighborhood. In addition to his deep connections to and familiarity with the community, White is a current Senior Fellow of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator where he has gained experience in charter school management.


Promise Academy

Promise Academy is a local K-5 charter school founded in 2005 on the north side of Memphis, TN. As one of the earliest charter schools in Memphis, Promise Academy was a leader in education and in the community. Open to any student, the charter school’s student population is 100% minority and 95% are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch. The mission of Promise Academy is to teach and inspire the mind, body, and spirit of children so they can “rise above” the rest and succeed in any academic or cultural setting. The daily schedule allows for extended blocks of reading and math






instruction as well as time for reading intervention and test preparation. Promise Academy boasts a low student-to-teacher ratio along with daily interventions for students not meeting reading and math benchmarks. In 2012, 52% of Promise Academy students were at or above proficient on the math TCAP, 5% higher than the state average and 26% higher than Memphis City Schools’ average.


Aspire Public Schools

Aspire Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that currently operates 37 high-performing, open-enrollment public charter schools serving 13,000 students in underserved communities across California and in Memphis. Aspire is one of the highest-performing public school systems in California, delivering a rigorous “College for Certain” education to students in grades K-12. An unrelenting focus on college preparedness led to 100% of graduating Aspire seniors being accepted to four year colleges or universities in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Aspire currently operates two Pre-K through fifth grade schools at Hanley Elementary in Memphis.


KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools

KIPP Memphis Collegiate Schools (KMCS) exists so that ALL children may reach their potential and choose their own futures. We empower our students with the knowledge and the character traits necessary for success in college and life so that they will become lifelong students and good people that give back to their communities. We put learning first by building partnership among parents, students, and teachers. Our outstanding team builds a strong culture of achievement to help all students climb the mountain through college.






National Black Caucus of State Legislators 37th Annual Legislative Conference to focus on PROGRESS: Moving Our States Forward Through Policy Action

State legislators to convene in Memphis, TN with advocates, corporate executives, and public policy experts.

WHO: Black lawmakers from across the United States, advocates and community leaders, corporate executives, leading public policy experts, media personalities, and celebrities including U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez; NBCSL President, Representative Joe Armstrong (TN); Emmy winner, Lynn Whitfield; Radio personality and author Michael Baisden; Grammy winner CeCe Winans; and Award-winning journalist and TV One Host, Roland Martin.

WHAT: The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is holding its 37th Annual Legislative Conference in Memphis, TN. A primary focus will be the discussion and ratification of policy issues submitted by members of the organization with collaboration by community stakeholders. Those policies will be the foundation for state and federal legislation, the NBCSL policy platform for 2014, and collaboration with community-based organizations.

The closing plenary, Galvanizing A State Agenda on Civil Rights will be moderated by Mr. Martin with remarks by The Honorable Thomas Perez; Pulitzer Prize Winner, Doug Blackmon; Lucia McBath, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Tamika Mallory; Former Executive Director of the National Action Network, and Kim McCray, Executive Director, Trayvon Martin Foundation.

Members of the media are encouraged to attend. Credentials are mandatory for admission into events that are open to the media. Please pick-up media credentials daily in the Alonzo Locke Room at The Peabody Hotel.

WHERE: The Peabody Hotel, 149 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN, 38103

WHEN: December 11-14, 2013

About the National Black Caucus of State Legislators The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) is a membership association representing more than 600 African-American state legislators hailing from 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. NBCSL members represent more than 50 million Americans of various racial backgrounds. NBCSL monitors federal and state activity and provides this information to its members through policy symposiums and conferences. Each year, NBCSL members pass policy resolutions that directly impact federal and state policy. The organization focuses on issues that directly impact U.S. domestic policy and is committed to policies that positively affect all Americans. Learn more at