The 2022 Conflict and Courage Challenge

The Morgan Project is an educational effort based on Birmingham’s unique role in America’s civil rights movement. This scholarship contest is designed to help students reflect on the part they play in creating a better community for all.

Student Prizes
1st Place — $1,500.00
2nd Place — $1,000.00
3rd Place — $750.00

The Setting

On September 16, 1963, a young lawyer named Charles Morgan, Jr., faced members of the Birmingham Young Men’s Business Club, a seat of power, and spoke up, saying what many did not want to hear.
Bombings in Birmingham were not new, but the violence that Sunday morning made national headlines—and so did the speech. Morgan was blunt: The fault, he said, lay not only with the people who planted the bomb—it lay also with people who had stayed quiet for many years of violence and unfair practices directed against Blacks. “Who threw that bomb?” asked Morgan. “We all did.”

Like many in the civil rights movement, Morgan received death threats for his stance. He and his family were forced to leave Birmingham.
‍On September 15, 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb under the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls and injured many more.

Conflict and Courage

The Morgan Project asks you to search your own ideas and name your ideals. Would you take a stand, if you knew it was unpopular, even dangerous?

While much has changed since 1963, many of the same struggles exist. Morgan took a stand that was moral, even though most people—whether they agreed with him or not—kept quiet. How do some people have the wisdom to know right from wrong? Why do they have the courage to speak up? Why do others not speak up? Who can say what is right and what is wrong? Would you have the courage to speak up?

Challenge Topic: Choose from any of the following

  • Choose a personal experience that involved conflict or violence that led you to take an unpopular stand. Did you know it was not popular? Why did you take that stand? What were the consequences for you or friends and family? Did you expect those consequences? Did you regret your decision?
  • Choose a personal experience in which you went with what friends did, even though you did not think it was right. What did you learn, and how will it affect your actions in the future? Would you choose a different action today?
  • Choose an event from the news of the past several years in which someone took an unpopular stand. Describe the conflict, and what acts you would have taken if you were there that reflected courage and why.
  • Choose an event from Birmingham’s past in which someone took an unpopular stand. Write why you think he or she did the right thing, what happened as a result, and what would have happened if he or she had not taken action. (Provide sources for information.)
  • Examine the history of a topic of racial justice and discuss its legacy/effect today. Essays should explain historical event(s) explain how the injustice/conflict persisted, and how courage was modeled and by whom.

Eligibility and Submission Requirements:

  • Students must be an Alabama student in grades 9-12. 
  • Submissions can be written as an essay (500 to 2,000 words), a poem (up to 500 words), or as a podcast or short film (5 minutes maximum). 
  • All submissions must be accompanied by the attached Conflict and Courage Challenge Certification Form accessible by clicking the button below and a student photo.
  • All submissions must be entirely the author’s original work. The Morgan Project may publish submissions, recognizing the author and high school.
  • All submissions will be judged by a panel on the strength of the answers to each of the questions presented in the essay contest topic. The judges’ selections are final.
  • Essays and poems should be typed. Podcasts and Short Films should be submitted as either an mp4 or mp3 file. 
  • Submit essays, poems, and certification forms to:
  • Submissions should be received between February 15th through May 1st. 
  • Prior to winners being announced, finalists will be asked to participate in either an in-person or virtual interview.
  • Winners will be announced no later than May 15, 2022. 
The Contest is now closed. Thanks to the participants.