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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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Taking action after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman ruling

This past Saturday, a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter after murdering Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL in 2012. Following the ruling, 2013 Stowe Prize Winner and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness Michelle Alexander posted the following on Facebook:

If Trayvon Martin had been born white he would be alive today. That has been established beyond all reasonable doubt. If he had been white, he never would have been stalked by Zimmerman, there would have been no fight, no funeral, no trial, no verdict. It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty - far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste. Trayvon, you will not be forgotten. We will honor you - and the millions your memory represents - by building a movement that makes America what it must become.
As she does in her book, Alexander makes clear that we must not sit idly by but all take action to create change. She recommends learning about the Dream Defenders, a group of young people that will bring social change by training and organizing youth and students in nonviolent civil disobedience, civic engagement, and direct action while creating a sustainable network of youth and student leaders to take action and create real change in their communities. We fight the criminalization of our generation by directly confronting the sources, sponsors and supporters of it. The video below is an introduction to their movement:

They say that we should just work for "reform" -- tinkering around the edges of this corrupt system and that we ought not delude ourselves into thinking that something truly transformational is even possible. Clearly these cynics and naysayers don't know the Dream Defenders. These brilliant and bold young people are getting ready to rock our world. They're connecting the dots between immigration, mass incarceration, Trayvon, slavery and back again. Check out the video, and if you still lack faith and hope, watch it again. And yes, it's possible to have fun while building a movement. Joy is allowed, as the end of the video shows.
- Michelle Alexander
What will you do to take action? We encourage you to comment on this post to share your thoughts and ideas, and join a safe and open conversation. 

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