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Cry Freedom

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The National Civil Rights Museum has some questions for young poets. To help celebrate its grand reopening, the museum has asked them to consider the importance of freedom: where it comes from and how we use it. Or how we fail to use it. And what makes it go away?

A taste of what's to come at the museum's Drop the Mic Poetry Slam is already available on YouTube. Search for the contest's theme, "My Freedom Is," and you'll find a thoughtful collection of performance poems that answer the original question with a barrage of other questions.

"My freedom is not too free," says Brian Carr. "As a young black male coming out of Memphis, Tennessee, ain't too many options for me. Or is that just a mindset?"

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Elyse Cagle says she knows her freedom wasn't free and wants everybody to know it wasn't cheap either.

One entrant asks why people see "the bomb sight instead of the sunlight." Another questions the whole assignment because the word freedom is "designed to allow a certain state of mind that will use or abuse you."

Finalists go head-to-head Saturday. The winner takes home a $1,000 grand prize.

The National Civil Rights Museum's Drop the Mic Poetry Slam at the Rumba Room, Saturday, February 22nd, 4 p.m. Visit poetryslam.civilrightsmuseum.org for details.

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