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Biography: Ben Morgan, president of Concerned Oxford Parents (COP)

Ben Morgan was born July 13, 1950 in Raleigh, North Carolina while his father, Vernon Morgan, was a Baptist minister there. His mother, Charlotte, cared for Ben and his sister, Alicia, who was two years older than he. Charlotte participated in the church women's activities, taught Sunday School, and assisted her husband in his ministry with all the traditional duties of a pastor's wife.

Ben became used to many hours of church going at an early age, and unlike many "preacher's kids" did not rebel at following the rules of his church and of his strict father. He thrived on routine and remained very organization-oriented all thorough school and and into his teen years. He willingly and actively participated in activities and church organizations with the children and youth of his church.

Ben was a superior student and found that the other students, as well as the teachers, paid attention when he spoke even if they did not like what he was saying. He learned it was not what you say but how you say it that made it palatable. He was very opinionated and found it difficult to understand why everybody didn't think as he did, but he thrived on arguing his position. As he matured, he realized that his calling in life would be to convince people to embrace his philosophy or ideas. Since he had a very conservative and biased view about everything, this was often a challenge. He became interested in public speaking and was a star member of his high school debate team. He savored his 4.0 GPA and worked very hard to be at the top of his class. He was Valedictorian of his graduating class.

In college at Campbell University, Ben toyed with the idea of going into politics so took political science and history courses. But he found them constricting and began taking more business courses with the idea of pursuing a business career. He combined his gift of gab with his business acumen and graduated with a BA in Business Administration.

Ben had always been successful dating girls. He wasn't bad looking, had a winning personality and found his persuasive manner of speaking pleasing to young women. He was never serious about his dates because they never quite measured up to his standard of intelligence nor did they agree with his social and political beliefs. Then in the summer prior to his senior year he met Patience Chapman at a national church conference. He found Patience to be intelligent, articulate, and in agreement with the basic social and political beliefs that most other young women had found too conservative. Patience attended Blue Mountain College in Northeastern Mississippi and was starting her junior year. They stayed in contact during Ben's senior year, and visited each other as often as possible during school vacations and breaks. Ben and Patience were deeply in love, but decided to postpone marriage until he had a secure job and was financially able to support a family. They both believed in abstinence until marriage so separation did not seem a problem to them.

When Ben graduated from college, he was offered a job in a successful insurance agency in Raleigh owned by a long-time friend of his father. He found he enjoyed the work and that his personality, gift of gab and powers of persuasion fit his job. With his many church and community connections as well as personal references from clients, he did well. Patience graduated from Blue Mountain in 1974 and went to work in her hometown of Oxford as a schoolteacher.

After graduation from college, Ben found his father's church was not always in agreement with his increasingly conservative social, political and religious philosophies. So, he sought a church that fit his ideals. He discovered an independent church that had been founded by Pastor Thurman George and became deeply involved. When Pastor George planned to move to Oxford, Mississippi and establish a new church there, he invited Ben to go with him and help. Pastor George felt Ben's gifts for persuasion, great debate skills, and fervent belief in the church would help establish a strong congregation and rapidly build their church following. Ben accepted eagerly. He welcomed the challenge of building a new church as well as the opportunity to be with Patience. The following year, Patience and Ben were married in the newly established First Church of Oxford.

Ben had opened his own insurance agency in Oxford, The Morgan Insurance Group, and was financially doing well, so that Patience was able to relinquish her job and concentrate on starting a family. Ben Junior was born in June 1977 followed by Grace in September 1980. During their early school years, their mother home schooled them since Ben and Patience didn't want their innocent children contaminated by teachings of the public school system. In 1990 the First Church of Oxford established their own school with Patience as principal and the Morgan children completed their schooling there.

With his business well-established, Ben had more time for community involvement and twice ran for Yoknapatawpha County School Board. He was unsuccessful, partly due to his ultra-conservative philosophy and partly because he lacked credibility since his children were privately schooled.

In 1998 he turned his attention and energies to a new organization, Concerned Oxford Parents (COP), which had been started and was chaired by Claire Windham. Over the next few years, the group pursued many goals including campaigning against sex education in schools, increasing community awareness about the dangers of certain children's books, and pushing for stricter enforcement of the age restrictions at local movie theatres. They didn't accomplish everything Ben would have liked, but they were instrumental in indicting and prosecuting Andrea Stover, which he felt was an important step.

When Claire Windham was elected mayor of Oxford, Ben took over as president of COP. By the time Andrea Stover completed her jail sentence returned to the community as an ex-con and registered sex offender, COP was poised to focus their attention on her and on Oxtales' next production. They were actively protesting her activities and her "amoral presence" in the community when she was killed.

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