Engage Memphis: A Facing History Student Leadership Group Voting Initiative

During 2018, members of Facing History and Ourselves’ Student Leadership Group, representing 17 high schools in Shelby County, are learning about the history of voting rights in the United States and have developed a social action campaign, Engage Memphis, to re-engage voters who are currently not voting.

This initiative recognizes the leadership role young people played in the strategy, the sustained efforts and footwork necessary to actualize the Voting Rights Act, and how students can choose to participate today.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? On the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the Memphis community is asking the question:

“Where do we go from here?
How do we continue the work of Dr. King to ensure equity and justice for all?”

Facing History’s role is to equip students with the knowledge, disposition and skills to become active, engaged leaders in their community.

STUDENT LEADERSHIP GROUP:  Facing History’s Student Leadership Group (SLG), generously funded by the Plough Foundation, started in 1997 and is now comprised of 17 high schools. Each school has a group of 6-8 student leaders, led by a pair of ambassadors, who participate in Facing History trainings on leadership, facilitating difficult conversations, anti-bullying, being an upstander, and civil rights history throughout the year. Those students lead Facing History groups on each of their campuses, which range from 6 to 40 students. Twice a year, the SLG leads Teach-Ins in which the students work in small groups to facilitate learning sessions for the community. Each student is required to bring 5 adults from their own lives resulting in a very diverse, cross-community conversation.

WHAT: During the summer and fall of 2018, the SLG will participate in workshops on the history of voting rights and tactics to re-engage voters in the Memphis community today. We are grateful for the generosity of the  Assisi Foundation of Memphis for their support of Engage Memphis.


  • MARCH 22, 2018, at Crosstown High School Collaboratory
    A Conversation with Civil Rights Activist Lynda Lowery, who at age 15 participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.
  • APRIL 19, 2018, at The Soulsville Charter School
    Democracy in Action: A Facing History Teach-In in partnership with the City of Memphis and the National Civil Rights Museum and led by the SLG, who will also elicit community feedback about voter participation in Memphis today.
  • JULY 12, 2018 at Facing History and Ourselves
    SLG Ambassadors developed their voter re-engagement campaign, Engage Memphis.
  • AUGUST 10, 2018 at University of Memphis
    Facing History Student Leadership Group conference where SLGS from 17 high schools will receive training on voting rights history and the social action campaign, Engage Memphis. This conference will also launch Facing History’s new online platform for student engagement.
  • AUGUST 28 2018 at Facing HIstory and Ourselves
    Voting: Democracy in Action, a workshop for educators on voting rights history and creating student voting projects.
  • September 28, 2018 at BRIDGES
    Engage Memphis Youth Summit presented by BRIDGES and Facing History and Ourselves. This youth-led summit is open to all high school students in Memphis. In the conference students will learn about strategies for social action, the history of youth-led movements, and hear from special speakers including Charles Maudlin, who at age 17 in 1964 was chair of the Lowndes County Alabama Youth League, which culminated in the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

Schools in the Facing History Student Leadership Group:

Central High School
Crosstown High School
Douglass High School
East High School
East T-STEM High School
Freedom Preparatory Academy
Hutchison School
Kingsbury High School
Lausanne Collegiate School
Margolin Hebrew Academy
Memphis Business Academy
MLK College Preparatory School
Overton High School
St. Agnes Academy
St. Mary’s Episcopal School
The Soulsville Charter School
White Station High School

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