Welcome to the
Facing History Together 
Student Essay Contest!

Facing History and Ourselves teaches us to think about the world in a new way, igniting a conversation about how we can build a society free from racism, antisemitism, bullying, and hatred of all kinds. 

This contest invites students to reflect on the themes, characters, and settings from Harper Lee's classic American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in order to make connections to their own experiences. 

Student Scholarships & Prizes 

Graduating seniors are eligible for the $2,500 Benjamin B. Ferencz Upstander Scholarship made possible by the Planethood Foundation. Five $500 Upstander Awards will also be given to students in 7th-12th grade.

New Award Added! One student will be selected to receive the Harper Lee Memorial Award & $1,000 Scholarship. This award will recognize a student voice that demonstrates outstanding thematic relevance in her honor.

Eligibility: Students must be at least 13 years or older and residents of the United States to participate. Read the contest FAQs for more information.

Educator Classroom Awards & Resources

Check out Facing History’s Teaching Mockingbird collection. Our resources for teaching To Kill a Mockingbird connect important themes of justice and morality to contemporary issues. 

The teacher of each winning student will also receive a $250 Classroom Award and free access to a Teaching Mockingbird online course.

Read the contest FAQs and the official contest rules

Get the full contest timeline and rules. Learn about how essays will be judged, and how the public will be invited to help decide the winner. 

Questions? Contact contest@facinghistory.org.

We asked students to respond to the following questions.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch, a young white girl growing up in Alabama in the 1930s, is forced to question her community's spoken and unspoken rules when her father agrees to defend a black man falsely accused of a crime. She and her brother, Jem, struggle to define their identities in relationship to the values of their small, segregated Southern town.

Like other coming-of-age stories, To Kill a Mockingbird invites readers to reflect on our own experiences, examining the forces that have shaped our identities as well as those of the characters. 

How has the community you've grown up in influenced the person you are today? Has there been a moment when your sense of self has come into conflict with the norms in your community?


Contest & Scholarship Supporter

Margaret Stohl, New York Times #1 Best Selling Author

Margaret co-authored the young adult novel, Beautiful Creatures, to prove that To Kill a Mockingbird is still relevant to teens today. She is inspired by the power of literature to help young people explore differences, define their identities, and take control of their own stories. Learn more

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