Pittman keeps the dream alive with activism


Marissa Pittman (used with permission)

Marissa Pittman (12) shakes hands with Bathsheba Sams, the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for International Paper. The Keeper of the Dream award was established by the National Civil Rights Museum in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Late nights. Countless pitches. Long hours. Marissa Pittman (12) felt all of her hard work pay off when she was one of five people in the Memphis area awarded the Keeper of the Dream Award.

The Keeper of the Dream Award, named in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., was founded by the National Civil Rights Museum to recognize young Memphians for their work in the community. “They [the National Civil Rights Museum] fight for equity, inclusion, and just making sure that there are spaces that Dr. Martin Luther King would be proud of,” Pittman said.

Pittman’s involvement and determination to solve political problems in her community has qualified her for this distinguished award. One of Pittman’s achievements was founding Pumps and Politics 901 with the help of Let’s Innovate through Education (LITE).

“ I realized that there was a lack of political representation of females, especially females of color,” Pittman said. “We work to give females the opportunities they need to run for office and know the inner workings of government so it’s not so daunting and scary and they realize that anybody can get into politics regardless of what you look like.”

Receiving this award is an accomplishment for Pittman. Her family is highly supportive of the National Civil Rights Museum, and when she received the news of her being one of two high school students to win the award, one of the first things she did was text her parents.

“The museum has played such an integral part in my life and to know that they think that the work that I’m doing is great makes me feel so good on the inside,” Pittman said.

“This is something I want to do until the problem is fixed,” Pittman, who plans to pursue politics in college, said. “The work I do is genuine and from my heart so it doesn’t really feel like work.”