Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Call to Action: A Conversation on Race and Social Justice

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center
Call to Action: A Conversation on Race and Social Justice
Bushnell Belding Theater 6.10.11
A series of three panel discussions on interrelated social justice issues

The program was webcast as it occurred and taped by CT-N.

Welcome and Introductions:
Katherine Kane, Executive Director, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

This is a program for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 200th birthday. Stowe’s best-known book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was the biggest fiction bestseller of the 19th century. It is the story of Tom, a young strong man with young children, held as property in that 19th century economic system where people were property. A man so valuable that his sale south saved the rest of the people on the plantation. His story goes south ending finally with the infamous Simon Legree. And it is also the story of George and Eliza Harris who with their little son Harry go north, to freedom.

Stowe’s anger at the political situation in the US in the mid 19th century, around the “peculiar institution” of people as property went into her book. And at the Stowe Center we use all that history and the complicated tale of Uncle Tom to inspire social justice and positive change – which is why we are so deeply involved in this Call to Action today. We think the promise of America has not been fulfilled.

Particular thanks to Congressman Larson and his amazing staff and to Sanford Cloud. Without them this assemblage today would not have happened.

Today’s conversation is to build a new call to action around the inequities that remain with us today. We think the promise of America has not been fulfilled and it is time to talk about the problems in American and their solutions. The core question is: What are you going to do?

The ideas from three panels are captured as we go and projected on the screen for all to see. The document’s preamble was written by Congressman John Larson.

We want to build a document that we can all participate in with key action steps that we as Americans can take. Then the document can be distributed and deployed around the country.

Questions from the public can be turned in from the audience, or sent by Twitter, email or Facebook. These will be fed into the document.


Presenting Sponsors
Connecticut Health Foundation
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Gold Sponsor


Silver Sponsors
Northeast Utilities
Novartis Pharmaceuticals

Bronze Sponsors
Arrow Prescription Center
Francisco Borges
Cloud and Robinson Development
LAZ Parking
Mass Mutual Financial Group
PCC Technology

Media Sponsors

Fox CT/ CT One Media
The Hartford Advocate
WNPR Connecticut Public Broadcasting

Congressman John Larson
Read letter from President Barack Obama and introduced members of Congressional Black Caucus who travelled from all across the country to be here today: Emmanuel Cleaver, president of the caucus. Senior member Donald Payne, NJ; Jesse Jackson Jr, IL; William Lacy Clay, MO; Hank Johnson and wife Marita, GA; Laura Richardson, CA. We expect GK Butterfield, NC; Gregory Meeks, NYC; Yvette Clark, NYC; and Corinne Brown, FL.

Document Preamble:
America, through its crafting of law, civil war, discourse and the passionate protestations of courageous men and women, has been on a long and continuous journey to realize true equality for every citizen. 

Americans share the common, invisible bond of citizenry-no matter our gender, race, religion or ethnicity.

Our Nation’s creators, in order to form a “more perfect union” established the foundation of our country, our democracy, on the fact that all men and women are created equal.

It is our most precious principle, one that Americans have been willing to lose their very lives to protect.

But when some are ignorant of this principle, either by choice or neglect, that ignorance begets prejudice. And the by-product of prejudice are the disparities which currently prevent so many of our fellow citizens from realizing educational & economic success and healthy, long lives; each of which represent the truest of American dreams.  

Our nation was founded on dreams. Today, OUR voices are joined to the courageous women and men of history, like Harriet Beecher Stowe, who used their voices, their words, to inspire the public will to mobilize, and awaken to their role in answering a call to action.

Today, our goals are tied to America’s Congressional Black Caucus, who’s Members for 40 years, have tirelessly labored to eliminate disparities in all areas of life for all citizens. Their work calls out to us to follow their example. 

Today, beginning in Hartford, America answers their call. 

Invocation: Archbishop Leroy Bailey, Jr., Senior Pastor, The First Cathedral, Bloomfield

Welcome to the City of Hartford:  Mayor Pedro Segarra

Welcome to Connecticut: Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman

Moderator: John Dankosky, host of WNPR “Where We Live"

Panel 1: The Achievement Gap

Introduction to the topic by John Dankosky, WNPR:
There are many ways to measure the achievement gap. In Connecticut, no matter how you measure it, minority student compared to white students, urban compared to suburban, rich compared to poor, we have one of the worst gaps in the country.

The role of schools is to enroll, engage, and educate youth to be active in society. The graduation rate is one way to measure the achievement gap. This issue can be seen by statistics that show that less than half of black males receive diplomas and the numbers are worse in underserved areas. Student performance is another measure and here the reading gap for minority students is three grade levels.

Dr. Christina Kishimoto
Incoming Superintendent of Hartford Public Schools
•    The National Assessment of Educational Progress has shown that Connecticut student in grades 5-8 have  the largest gap. The same statistics are given for students in 12th grade.
•    We need to change the structures, policies and supports currently in place.
•    We cannot take a punitive approach to solving this issue.
•    We need a set of reform policies. Reforms began in Hartford five years ago.
•    Hartford has received more support nationally than within our own state; Connecticut needs to be more involved.
•    Urban districts are left to work on reforms by themselves.
•    Every district needs to be held accountable for the achievement gap within the whole state.

Linda Spears
Vice President, Policy and Public Affairs, Child Welfare League of America

•    We need to ask questions like: What does a child’s healthy growth and development look like? What do they need that we can provide?
•    Child welfare services handle the children that are at the greatest risk of educational failure. The children that are the most vulnerable, children living in unstable homes, as well as children in foster and adoptive care.
•    In order to overcome the systematic barriers that are present groups like schools, child welfare, community agencies, and the juvenile justice system need to work together.
•    We need a holistic approach with emotional and social supports created around the needs of children.
•    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008, is legislation that was passed by Child Welfare, which included requirements for improving education. It has been poorly implemented and needs collaboration now to make it work.

Brandon McGee Jr.
Network Development Manger, Urban Alliance, Inc.

•    We need to increase the achievement levels of minority and low income students.
•    This can be done through high standards, challenging curriculum, effective leadership, improving community and family relationships, and good teachers
•    There needs to be a reorganization of leadership in Pre-K through 12th grade.
•    We need to hold legislators accountable to ensure changes needed in legislation.
•    We need to set high expectations for all students and provide high quality curriculum
•    We need to expand high quality preschool and all-day kindergarten to ensure school readiness.
•    Broaden the pool of school and district leaders. This can be done by creating an alternative route to certification for administrators
•    Improve minority teacher preparation programs
•    Invest intelligently and provide an effective and transparent way to fund public education.
•    There needs to be coordination between families and communities.

Reverend Michael Williams
Hartford Area Service Director, Department of Children and Families

•    The achievement gap needs to be viewed in a racial context, not economic or geographic. Even in suburban towns you still see a racial achievement gap.
•    The timing for a solution is urgent. As we have seen in the past, too much time will only broaden the gap.
•    Interactions between teachers and students are all that is usually considered. The community needs to be brought into the conversation.
•    There needs to be a focus on 0-6. All kids need to be ready for school.
•    Elevate the value of education. Today it is questionable to many where education stands.
•    We need institutional leadership and collaboration

State Representative Jason Rojas
Member of Education Committee

•    There is an opportunity gap that minority children are born into which includes an opportunity gap for quality housing, quality jobs, and quality health care. This leads to a preparation gap in education.
•    We need a solid system of early childhood education
•    We have tremendous resources that we need to put to use.
•    There needs to be an increase in participation in the programs that already exist. Many lack access to information about these programs, so we need to make people aware of them.
•    We need to increase family literacy and oral language development
•    We need to decrease the number of special education placements. Too many young African American males are unnecessarily placed in special education and will not be able to get out.
•    There needs to be a focus on reading. Children should develop a love for reading by the time they reach kindergarten.
•    Teachers need to know how to teach reading properly.
•    School governance councils are a way to involve parents in the education process. Parents need to do more than bake for the bake sale, they need to be offered a seat at the table.
•    We cannot set parents and teachers against each other. They are the two groups who care most about the future of our children.

Jay Bhagat
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    It is important to get communities involved in education. Teachers and families need to come together.
•    Education does not stop when the bell rings. There needs to be involvement after classes are done.
•    Parents need to work with children on school work.
•    Putting technology in the classroom is not going to solve the problem; teachers need to be able to utilize all that they have available.
•    Teachers need to prepare lessons for the 21st century which includes using social media in the classroom.
•    More afterschool mentoring programs are needed for students who do not have the help they need at home. These should also be mentors that students can relate to.
•    The opinion of students is important. Keep interviewing kids to see what is really going on in schools.

Jordan Carter
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    We need to ask: What message do families provide their children about the importance of education? Many kids do not have the drive to succeed, so we need to question the parents.
•    There needs to be a commitment by teachers to reach, teach, and motivate a diverse population of students. What does a Caucasian teacher do to motivate the entire population?
•    You hear that Hartford may not have as many resources as other districts, but besides resources we have to look at the drive students and teachers have.

Questions from the audience:

Q:  How can we do better in preschool programs to eliminate the learning gap and prepare students for 1st grade?
A:  Dr. Christina Kishimoto-Students need to be reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade in order to participate in content based reading that takes place in grade 4. We need to be measuring Pre-K through 3rd grade as one grouping.

Q:  How can child welfare systems work better together to improve the achievement gap?
A:  Linda Spears-By making plans. There are barriers such as children who move around from placement to placement which can result in loss of records. System barriers like this need to be addressed, then family development can follow.

Q:  We’ve been hearing the same thing for thirty years; that parents need to get involved, how do we help parents with homework?
A:  Brandon McGee-We need to start by looking at what we have available to us, churches for example. There can also be parent tutoring programs and peer parent courses. Some parents work all day so there needs to be an understanding of individual situations.

Q:  How is the achievement gap a race, not economic issue?
A:  Rev. Michael Williams-If you look at the Connecticut Mastery Test data in the suburbs you will see the same gap along racial lines. Health care, economics, child welfare, prisons, the gap is based on color. The racial population in this state faces structural racism. This is not intentional racism, but it is making an impact. 

Panel 2: Economics of Race

Introduction to the topic by John Dankosky, WNPR:
The overall unemployment rate in the United States is between 9-10% since the onset of the recession. It is 15-16% for African Americans. We need to enhance job creation and competitiveness and economic growth. How do we provide particular focus to minority communities?

By 2020, half of Connecticut’s working population will be minority groups. Minority businesses often have difficulty accessing capital. Educational advancement is key and that is not always there.

State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield
Chair of the CT Black and Puerto Rican Caucus

•    It has been too long since we addressed the minority Set-Aside issue.
•    We talk about race, but we don’t really talk about it. We need to talk about race to move policy.
•    We need to have a conversation about jobs from the perspective of the non-majority population.
•    Education bills need to get to the heart of the problem, not just the bills about building improvements.
•    We need to hold legislators accountable, but we also need to support those legislators.
•    We need to begin the process of organizing.
•    We need to assess risks; how do we take away the risks legislators face so they can talk about issues in a real way.

Adrienne Cochrane, J.D.:
President, Greater Hartford Urban League

•    There needs to be civic engagement.
•    We need to offer programs, but we also need to focus on the needs of the community.
•    The State of Black America is an annual publication by the National Urban League. This publication can provide us all with more information on this important issue.
•    We need to target solutions to put urban America back to work
•    Youth and adults, in terms of work, always deserve a second chance.

State Senator Eric D. Coleman:
Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee

•    The essence of economics is the creation and provision of jobs and job opportunities.
•    Unemployment in minority communities is not accident, look back through history.
•    At the State Capitol legislators are trying to provide support for entrepreneurship, access to capital, and technology assistance.
•    Small businesses are the largest employers.
•    Affirmative action needs to be amended, not ended.
•    We need to return to government programs like Comprehensive Employment and Training opportunities. This should provide training and opportunities not only in the private sector, but also in the public sector.
•    Due to concerns with infrastructure in this state in particular, it makes sense to set up a program like the Civil Conservation Corps.
•    Bonding remains an issue for minority businesses. We need to create programs that provide minority contractors to bonding.
•    Entrepreneurship training programs for young people will create businesses and employ others.

Frank Alvarado:

Director, New Haven Spanish American Merchants Association

•    Strong minority businesses are important for providing job, but they also know the clients and cater to their needs as well.
•    Need for access to working capital. Capital from traditional lending has dried up. Minority businesses relay on non-traditional lenders to provide loans.
•    Small contractors need access to large contractors.
•    Bonding issue needs to be resolved.

Teresa Younger:
Executive Director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

•    We need to bring gender into the conversation.
•    We need to address pay inequities. When a white man earns $1.00, a black man earns .72, and a Hispanic man earns .57. A white woman earns .74, a black woman earns .64, and a Hispanic woman earns .52.
•    Encourage federal passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. Better salaries for all will be the result.
•    Jobs need to provide a livable wage to allow workers to save for retirement and send children to college.
•    We need to stop talking about minimums and start talking about maximums.
•    We need to hear the voice of young people. Minimum wage will not get them anywhere.
•    Children care expenses take up 30-40% of household incomes. There need to be childcare subsidies not only for the very poor, but also for the working middle class.

Samuel Hamilton:
Executive Director, Hartford Economic Development Corporation

•    This is a call to action for the reawakening of hope.
•    When opportunities exist, students and families have something to aspire to.
•    We should look at areas where immediate change can happen. Once these changes happen, people will see that change is possible.
•    In the South, you see minorities working on highways, taking advantage of opportunities in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Connecticut is in need of infrastructure repairs. Why can’t we replicate what we can see in the South?
•    The opportunity to do something is now. It will not be there forever.

Leon Chandler:
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    A lot comes along with growing up poor, with a single mom; such as where we live or going without.
•    Expectations people have for people like me in my neighborhood are low. No one thinks about minority kids going to college or having careers.
•    Drop out is the expectation and it is hard to escape this.
•    Involvement in programs like the Youth Services Bureau and working with positive role models kept me on track.
•    We focus a lot on the problems and we are blind to what we can be proud of.
•    Over 40% of 16-18 year old black males and females looking for jobs and they haven’t been hired.
•    Being the first one to do anything is a challenge.
•    It’s hard to climb the ladder of success when you start underneath it.
•    It is important to change expectations and provide students with the resources, support, and job opportunities we need.
•    I need to invest in my success now or pay for my mistakes later.

Calvin Brown:
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    The key to economic success is academic opportunity.
•    Youth need to be engaged in internship programs
•    Are schools preparing students for the competitive workforce?
•    Students need opportunities to find their strengths

Questions from the audience:

Q:  Most white Americans are not concerned with the economics of race. They are too involved with maintaining their own quality of life. How can the black community establish their own businesses and institutions and force whites to take notice?
A:  Representative Gary Holder-Winfield-There are opportunities we didn’t have before. With the expanding population of minorities, it becomes in the interest of the majority to deal with issues of that community. Half of the workforce in Connecticut is not white, so we need to do something. Years ago we were talking about Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, but if you can’t read then you can’t do any of those. All the people we need to be talking about this with are aware of it. It is the government officials and members of this audience who need to make it an issue.

Q:  How do we create entrepreneurship?
A:  Frank Alvarado-Provide training courses or training and mentoring with other small businesses.

Samuel Hamilton-Provide young people with information on entrepreneurship.    Too often we focus on one thing, but the sky is the limit and we need to demonstrate to them that that opportunity exists.

Teresa Younger-Teach young people to think critically and ask questions. Out of questions come solutions.

Senator Eric D. Coleman
-The collective power of community. Retail left Hartford and we now support suburban malls, we are not supporting downtown business.

Adrienne Cochrane-A major problem is that youth cannot get into establishments to have internships. If you don’t let them in the door how can we get the entrepreneurship?

Panel 3: Health Disparities

Introduction to the topic by John Dankosky, WNPR:
The health care reform debate raises issues of coverage, accessibility, cost, and quality. Health care is important to the overall welfare of communities. Largely all minorities have long suffered poor health and premature mortality due to disproportionate rates of uninsurance, HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and social determinants of health.

Dr. Jewel Mullen:
Commissioner, Department of Public Health

•    This is a national discussion that requires national solutions.
•    Connecticut has the highest per capita income, the highest per capita debt, the widest achievement gap, and the largest degree of income inequality.
•    Jumpstarting the conversation in Connecticut will hopefully inform the country about these national solutions.
•    Disparities are routed in social determinants.
•    The Affordable Care Act is a solution and a call to action. Many solutions are within it, like: community transformation grants, teen pregnancy prevention, workforce development, cooperative agreements for chronic disease prevention.
•    Solutions to the country’s budget crisis are cuts to public health.
•    Agencies need to work hand in hand to address these issues.
•    We get lists of problems and what the actions steps should be, Congress needs to help embed accountability for them.

Patricia Baker:
President and CEO, Connecticut Health Foundation

•    In CT 49% of Latino 3rd graders have significant oral health decay.
•    75% of young children of color get their first mental health treatment when they enter the juvenile justice system.
•    Infant mortality for African American women is three times that of whites.
•    We need to look at this as policies, systems, and structures that provide change.
•    Two factors other than social determinates include: access and quality.
•    Medicare has been the center of debate, but Medicaid is equally important. Medicaid is at risk in the budget cuts.
•    We have to think creatively about how we integrate our health delivery system and promote the patient-centered medical home
•    The Congressional Black Caucus was instrumental in calling on the Institute of Medicine to study health disparities and created the publication “Unequal Treatment”.
•    Again, we need to call on the Institute of Medicine to speak to where we are and articulate solutions and successes.
•    Ten years from now we should be all about success.

Leticia Marulanda:
Deputy Director, Department of Health and Human Services

•    It is not just social determinates.
•    We need to eliminate poverty, promote economic development
•    We need food security, shelter, education.
•    There needs to be a workforce that reflects to community
•    We need to address access to quality health care for all.
•    Such progress as passing the minimum drinking age, seatbelt laws, and bans on flammable sleepwear all are ways we have addresses health disparities in the past.

Curtis Robinson:
Founder, Curtis D. Robinson Men’s Health Institute, St. Francis Hospital

•    In Hartford emergency rooms, there are a disproportionate number of men dying of prostate cancer. The reason was because in most of the cases this is the first time these men are receiving any kind of treatment and by this point the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes and it is too late.
•    Most of the men do not have insurance and they are only seen once they go to the E.R.
•    Along with St. Francis Hospital I have set up an institute to reach out to churches and do testing. This started six months ago and in the last 11 months we have tested over 1,100 men, caught over 30 cancers and operated on them with no charge.
•    There is no reason for people to die because they can’t afford health care.
•    A truck driver in Florida heard about the institute on BBC radio. He was dying of prostate cancer. He got on a buss, came to Connecticut, he was examined and he had stage 6 prostate cancer. He is currently being operated on.
•    No one else is doing biopsies and taking out the cancer at no cost.
•    We have to ask whether or not we would allow the person next to us to die if we knew that we could save them. What would you do? Would you let them die?
•    The emergency room will save your life, but they will only stabilize you until you see your physician. If you don’t have a physician you go home and you die.
•    St. Francis and the Tuskegee Institute are partnering to do tests to determine why African American men are dying of prostate cancer.

Alfreda Turner
President and CEO, Charter Oak Health Center
•    Community health centers serve 20 million Americans.
•    Support and students by the Institute of Medicine, Center for Studying Health System Change, and George Washington University shows that community health centers reduce health disparities.
•    We could save $18 billion a year if avoidable emergency room care was referred to community health centers.
•    Mobile health care provides access to care in rural and difficult to reach communities.
•    We need to begin seeing health care as a right not a privilege.
•    We need to use more technology in order to improve quality, safety, and cost outcomes.
•    Electronic medical records in all health offices will allow patients to become more informed consumers of care.
•    There is not enough data on those who face health disparities.
•    Telemedicine provides access to specialists for those who would not have this option.
•    Predictive modeling software allows us to target limited resources and tailor the design of programs.
•    We need a culturally competent workforce
•    Funding is needed for the National Health Service Corps.
•    Communities need to be involved in designing their own success
•    We need to foster collaboration among community providers so that scarce resources are not duplicated and we can sustain at risk agencies.

Kyera Sterling
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    Teenagers are not just texting and on Facebook, but are a paramount force in the progression of this nation.
•    Minority health disparities are a domino effect from other issues; an example being the inability to attain work with adequate benefits.
•    We need to be concerned not only with physical health, but also mental health.
•    We are doing a grave disservice to our future professional by not concerning ourselves with their mental and physical health.

Victoria Olokojo:
Member of Congressman John Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet

•    We need to provide adequate health awareness for minorities and youth for the prevention and treatment of illnesses.
•    Half and credit or one semester of health education is not enough.
•    Health education for teens should consist of more than just teen pregnancy, drugs, and alcohol.
•    Health education needs to discuss the benefits of health care, various diseases, questions to ask our doctors, and the importance of visiting the doctor.
•    Economic empowerment is needed. If people cannot pay for health care then to them there is not health care.

Questions from the audience:

Q:  How can I ensure that I am receiving equal health care to that of whites?
A:  Dr. Jewel Mullen-You receive health care from someone. We believe the system is going to do something for us. You need to find a place of trust to personalize your care. It’s about whether you are getting what you deserve. You have to talk about what happens outside the examination room.
Patricia Baker-You need to ask your doctor: Have you told me all of my choices? Is there anything else I should know or consider?

Q: What should I ask my State and Federal legislators to do to eliminate racial inequities?
A: Patricia Baker-They need to set specific goals and targets, followed up by dollars, then performance.

Panel 4: Congressional Black Caucus

Congressman John Larson:
U.S. Representative, Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District

•    These members have come from every corner of the nation, from Florida, Illinois, and Southern California.
•    The Congressional Black Caucus is the conscience of America.
•    They have lived the experience of all three of the issues discussed and we are now asking them for their action.

Congressman Donald Payne:

U.S. Representative, New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District

•    People don’t want to talk about race, but until we have a true conversation about race we will have stumbling blocks. We can use these stumbling blocks of the past as stepping stones, but an open conversation needs to take place now.
•    We need to be honest as a nation. Otherwise, we will fall back.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown:
U.S. Representative, Florida’s 3rd Congressional District

•    I was elected in 1992. I was the first African American elected in Florida in 129 years.
•    As redistricting is happening, we need to include communities of interest because we need to include African Americans not only in Congressional positions, but state legislature too.
•    Transportation and infrastructure drives this country. For every billion dollars we spend it generates 4,000 permanent jobs.
•    You may see minorities working construction jobs in the South, but they do not own those companies.
•    Bonding and use of capital are minority issues.
•    The youth need to look at what is the right fit for them in the future. When choosing colleges you need to make sure that they are accredited.
•    We need to look at how we can reprogram stimulus dollars.
•    We need to take care of our veterans.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

U.S. Representative, Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District

•    We need to give homage to Harriet Beecher Stowe. President Abraham Lincoln called her “the little lady who started this great war.” If Lincoln was alive to see the end of the war, he may have said she was, “the little lady who started this great war that led to the 13th amendment, the 14th amendment, and the 15th amendment of our Constitution.”
•    Harriet Beecher Stowe must have known that slavery was a state right and state rights are not human rights.
•    The panels discussed today were discussed in one state, but all 50 states need to have this conversation.
•    All states spend money on education differently and if the politics are right you might get a good education and if they are not right you might not. Our children face a “state” system.
•    As long as education is in the purview of the states or health care is in the purview of the states it will always be a state issue, when it needs to be part of a Union of states.
•    Every American deserves the right to a public education of equal high quality.
•    Every American deserves the right to equal high quality health care.
•    If one public high school can build a state-of-the-art facility and be public, this should be what is offered in all 95,000 public schools in the United States.

Congressman William Lacy Clay
U.S Representative, Missouri’s 1st Congressional District

•    By visiting dialysis clinics you can see the disproportionate number of minorities receiving treatment.
•    Advocate the establishment of a National donor registration that does not discriminate and is based on need.
•    The Federal Government and Medicare treat transplants and dialysis differently. You are only reimbursed for dialysis, but it is more expensive to do dialysis. Dialysis is just cleansing the blood; it is not as effective as transplants.
•    Thank you to Curtis Robinson and Saint Francis Hospital for setting an example.
•    What we are doing in public education is not working. Disparities show that we have failed.
•    We are not giving parents and students the necessary options. More options should be offered, like target specialty schools and trade schools.
•    We need to give students the skills so they can get a job with a livable wage.
•    Job corps centers are an option since not everyone is cut out for college.

Congressman G.K. Butterfield:
U.S. Representative, North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District

•    As Representative of the 1st District of North Carolina, I represent the fourth poorest district in the Nation.
•    The Energy and Commerce Committee wrote the Affordable Care Act. It took 2,700 pages, but the question of health care reform had to be discussed.
•    The cost of health care is driving our debt.
•    50 million Americans have no insurance. 175 million have insurance, but because of the practices of insurance companies, it is not worth the paper it is written on.
•    Medicaid is controlled by states. It is principally for families with dependent children, so low income adults do not qualify unless they have a disability.
•    The Affordable Care Act is law. It will be fully operational in 2014. By 2019 we will see a significant change in the condition of the American people.
•    Representative Paul Ryan’s plan suggests cutting $4 trillion from the deficit in the next ten years and proposes no new revenue. Of that $4 trillion, $3 trillion is from programs that benefit low income families.
•    Proposed Medicare reform would leave it up to the states, who will not have enough money to operate the program.

Congressman Hank Johnson
U.S. Representative, Georgia’s 4th Congressional District

•    Life is complex. We need to get back to the basics of being human beings. We are all bodies with minds, hearts, and souls.
•    When we are all educated we can all contribute to the melting pot of this country and make it better for all. That is why public education is so important.
•    Human beings are greedy. We need to begin working to better the lives of others. This can benefit us all and make us feel good.
•    Economics is driven by those with money who do not want to give it up.
•    Health care is all about money. The current system is profits over people. Insurance companies have taken over the medical profession.
•    Each one of us has a calling and a sphere of influence. There is always somebody in your life that you can encourage.
•    We are powerful and human beings. Like Harriet Beecher Stowe, one person can change the history of mankind.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
U.S. Representative, New York’s 11th Congressional District

•    We should all reflect on the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe and find out where we fit into her legacy.
•    What makes people in New York so unique is constant re-examination of who we are.
•    There was a time when public schools worked. Public schools can still work and they must work.
•    We have ancestors who learned to read from one page of a Bible by candlelight. If they were caught they were sentenced to death.
•    If they were able to do it and the product was some of the most prolific African Americans in the history of the United States. Even though they were not wealthy, all they could be came from education.
•    Parents used to sacrifice to make sure their children were educated. Somewhere there was a disconnect; this is not happening for a variety of reasons. Maybe parents in disadvantaged communities are younger or were victims of decaying schools.
•    We all have an obligation to find out how children are being educated. We are distracted. We look for entertainment value in everything.
•    It’s not going to happen because we wish it to happen; it’s going to happen because we make it happen. That is what social action is.
•    This nation was built by immigrants of all different circumstances. Even today we are denying education to children who are undocumented.
•    Are we cutting off our nose in spite of our face? Could the young children we are denying an education be the ones who answer there pressing issues?
•    Would I want to be treated the way these individuals who want nothing more than to be Americans? What does it say about us all as a civil society?

Congresswoman Laura Richardson
U.S. Representative, California’s 37th Congressional District

•    We all want to work together to get something done.
•    To all of the young people: we are all encouraged by what you said.
•    We have identified the problems and solutions and we are talking and getting closer, but we need to be in the right position to get it done. .
•    We have to recognize that there are consequences for elections and wars.
•    Each of us talks about these issues in Washington D.C. to work to make it happen.
•    What am I going to do? I’m going to learn from past mistakes; I going to come to places like Hartford to listen, recommit, and be inspired by you to fight another day.
•    We have to do more. Out lack of fight is costing us.
•    We have to reach out beyond this room.
•    We cannot continue to support programs and policies that do not take care of the American people.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
U.S. Representative, Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus

•    Issues like health care are theological. Hospitals are named theologically and the principle of healing is theological.
•    We need to be in the business of healing. No one should turn away. This is the principal issue of the millennium.

Chairman Cleaver makes the “Call to Action”
There is a story about mice that had a hard seven years. There was a cat who was brutal. This caused the mice to call together a convention to deal with the number one problem they faced, the vicious cat. One by one, mice came across the stage to state to the chairman of the mice that this cat was brutal. The chairman wanted to form committees to begin dealing with the problem, but no one came forward with a solution. One day a young up-start mouse came up with a solution. If they could find a way to be warned that the cat was near, they would be clear. The solution to create this warning was to tie a bell around the neck of the cat. An old mouse came down the center aisle wanting the microphone. He believed the young mouse gave a good proposal, but one question remained…who’s going to bell the cat?

This has been a question in “mousedom” and a question in “humandom”. Now it is a question for Hartford, who’s going to bell the cat?

Responses to Chairman Cleaver’s Call to Action:

Reverend Raymond Sailor: The Great Commission Baptist Church
•    We need to partner with organizations across all three issues. There are qualified people who are members of churches who could assist in ending these social justices.
•    We hope Congress and members of the Congressional Black Caucus will help Connecticut get the funding needed to help those who are the victims of these injustices
•    We want to be the recipients of the problem solving, but we also want to be involved.

Response from Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.
•    Representatives cannot earmark money to any of the programs that we would like to give money to, that we are talking about today.
•    Congress is about to vote on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling and it could mean up to $1 trillion in cuts. Everything that we are talking about today is at risk.
•    When health care reform was passed, 22 states filed law suits against the Federal government saying they could not be forced to provide health care to everyone.
•    If Harriet Beecher Stowe was alive today she would write a book about health care.
•    We are about to enter a major war about funding for what people in Connecticut say they need.
•    If we can spend billions of dollars funding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, then we ought to be able to put a person in Connecticut on their own two feet.

Reverend Henrietta Sailor: The Great Commission Baptist Church
•    The phrase that the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance uses is “Just Peace”.
•    Urban areas have too much violence and there is a lack of families. There are too many single mothers and children with incarcerated fathers.
•    How do we get men out of the prison system? We need to educate them and volunteer in prisons. They don’t know how to get out of it. We need to give them hope
•    Hope will bring about peace.

Reverend Joshua Mason Pawelek:
Unitarian Universalist Society
•    We need to reduce urban violence.
•    We need to make sure the public option for health care will address race based disparities.
•    My congregation can work with Manchester Community College to expand community involvement in education.
•    We need to organize to expand participation.

Reverend Belinda Plummer
•    We want to work with individual s and organizations to help them find their destiny and purpose.
•    Community organizations need to know how to do business. The function of an agency is to care for the people it serves, not focus on sustaining themselves.
•    Everyone needs to step up to the plate
•    Churches need to come together and work together to accomplish these changes we need

Reverend James Lane: North End Church of Christ
•    We can use churches as sites for youth
•    We need to help the youth connect to the chain of memory. They are not connected enough with their own history.

Reverend Steve Camp: Faith Congregational Church
•    Everyone needs to write a letter to Congress that says you need to stand up, stand out, and make sure voices of the people are heard
•    You need to fight for people.
•    It is time, time is running out

Response by Congresswoman Corrine Brown:
•    What we also need to do in this situation is educate people to get out there and vote.
•    We pay consequences for elections. Every vote makes a difference

Response by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke:
•    During the health care debate the Tea Party came to Washington D.C. and they came in the thousands.
•    Come to Washington D.C. so Congress can see and know you exist.
•    You amplify our voices; democracy is not a spectator sport.

Imam Kashif Abdul-Kareim:
Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford
•    We need to deal with prison reform. The laws are still Jim Crow
•    We need to deal with equal housing and immigrants rights.
•    In Connecticut, we’ve dealt with immigrants being denied opportunities like tuition.
•    There is an issue with credit. Bad credit disproportionately affects Latinos and African Americans, especially when being denied something like a job due to bad credit.

Andrew Woods: Hartford Communities That Care
•    We need to collaborate with members of the Congressional Black Caucus
•    The profile of urban violence needs to be raised.
•    There needs to be cooperation between states to address the issue of urban violence, which is a repercussion of all three issues we discussed, health care, education, and economics.

Janice Fleming: Voices of Women of Color
•    What I will continue to do is create a safe space for women of color to come together and address issues of voting, education, public health, and housing.
•    The reason I created the Voices of Women of Color was to educate women about voting rights. Voting can remove some of the barriers.
•    Representatives will be held accountable for addressing these issues.

Lucy Ungaro: Congressman Larson’s Congressional Youth Cabinet
•    We need to help each student reach their full potential and let their voices be heard

Khaliah Kashif Abdul-Karim: Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford
•    With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 coming up we also need to dispel myths and show that all Muslims are not responsible for what happened.
•    Government officials need to understand Muslims better.
•    There needs to be curriculum in the training of police officers and the FBI about Islam
•    We need an open dialogue
•    Children need to receive multi-cultural education in schools

Response by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke:
•    It is important for the Muslim community to work with the Congressional Black Caucus.
•    There is a huge level of understanding
•    There are two practicing Muslims in the CBC

Response by Congressman Hank Johnson:
•    Muslims are needed in all levels of government; there is so much they can bring to the table.
•    I encourage you to be involved

Katherine Kane, Executive Director, Stowe Center, concludes and introduces:
Reverend Shelley Best, President/CEO, Connecticut Conference of Churches, to deliver the benediction.

Stay tuned to the Stowe Center for continuing follow up to this exciting program. 
Visit www.harrietbeecherstowe.org for more information about upcoming programs!

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