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.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Video of Congressional Hearing "A Conversation on Race and Justice in America"

Yesterday afternoon, the US House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hosted "A Conversation on Race and Justice in America," a panel and hearing requested by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Many of you may remember our public program with the CBC in June 2011 for Stowe's Bicentennial where the panel discussed issues of race, closing the education achievement gap, and health disparities in African American communities. That program resulted in the formation of Call to Action"a community initiative of activists and leaders working together to address issues of race and justice" created with Rep. John B. Larson.

As this video attests, the conversations and actions around race and justice continue! This discussion featured :
  • Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Chairwoman, Congressional Black Caucus)
  • Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (Co-Chair, Democratic Steering & Policy Committee)
  • Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Congressman Rob Andrews (Co-Chair, Democratic Steering & Policy Committee)
  • Members, Democratic Steering & Policy Committee
Among the non-legislator panelists was Maya Wiley, Founder and President of the Center for Social Conclusion, who led the October 2012 Transforming Hartford: The Call to Action Continues program at the Legislative Office Building presented by the Stowe Center, Congressman John B. Larson, the City of Hartford, Voices of Women of Color and the Connecticut Commission on Health Equity.

Be sure to watch the full hearing below and read the full "A Conversation on Race and Justice in America" CBC press release HERE

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nationwide sex trafficking sweep recovers 105 young girls

The front page of today's Hartford Courant featured "FBI Sweep Saves Five," an article about "Operation Cross Country VII" which rescued girls across the country being trafficked as prostitutes. Part of Innocence Lost National Initiative, the operation led to the recovery of 105 children ages 9-17 and the arrest of 150 pimps in 76 cities. Five of the girls were rescued in Connecticut and were found in West Hartford, Berlin, Norwich, Milford, and New Haven.

Read the Hartford Courant article HERE.

While the rescue of these innocent girls is a great success, it is a reminder that there is still work to be done as trafficking is present in cities everywhere; even in Connecticut. We hope this will be seen as a call to action and an opportunity to take charge on issues of human trafficking. If you missed our How to Be an Abolitionist Workshop in April, the takeaway below lists websites and other websites which allow you to take action.

Another opportunity to learn more and take action will be this September 19-21 at the first Historians Against Slavery national conference at the National Underground Railroad and Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH. Crossing Boundaries, Making Connections: American Slavery and Antislavery Now and Then will feature victims and historians of human trafficking and slavery. The conference is free and you can find more on the Historians Against Slavery website.

How will you take action today on human trafficking? Share your thoughts and stories by clicking "Comment" below. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Event Recap: What Can You Do To Fight Intolerance? (7.25.13 workshop)

Salons at Stowe
What Can You Do To Fight Intolerance?
July 25, 2013
Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are prevalent problems, and prejudice and discrimination are reflected throughout United States history. To encourage conversation and solution-building, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center presents What Can You Do to Fight Intolerance?

Dr. William Howe is the program manager for culturally responsive education, multicultural education, bullying and harassment, gender equity and civil rights at the Connecticut Department of Education. He is the founder of the New England Conference on Multicultural Education (NECME) and Past President of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME).

Dr. Howe began by commenting on the fear, anger, and frustrations he notices as a result of intolerance, yet a desire to talk about the issues and find solutions. He shared the story of James Baldwin and his call to people of all races to help in “ending the racial nightmare,” explaining that we are living the racial nightmare: and even though we have been talking about it for decades the situations are not changing. His goal, and the goal of the program, was to arrive at constructive answers.

Dr. Howe shared his background, starting with his parents who were born in China. His father was kidnapped at age 7, tied and kept in a closet, and had to relearn how to walk when released at age 9. His parents died while he was kidnapped, and his grandfather – fearing the kidnappers would come back – sent him to the United States. His mother was given away as a servant at age 16, and when she ran away back home she was not wanted. His parents met through an arranged marriage and William was born in Quebec. He has two children, a son who is a publisher and daughter who is a social worker, both who work in Chicago, and a wife who is a social worker and therapist.

He explained that we have to start talking about ourselves as cultural beings and be proud of who we are – “no child, no person, should be ashamed of who they are.” Dr. Howe then led participants in several one-on-one discussions with people they did not know. Each discussion related to culture, and several members commented on their pride in:
- The influence of African culture music and education on American culture
- The influence of Italian culture on American food and family
- The influence of Irish poetry, culture and literature

In the following discussion, they discussed things they wished people would stop saying about their culture, including:
- Associating Jamaicans/Jamaica with weed
- The stereotype that all Asians are brilliant
- The association of Colombians with drug cartels
- That African American women speak Ebonics
- That American women are promiscuous
- That people of culture are on welfare and receiving benefits
- The “We’re #1” American attitude
- That the Native Americans are “Indians” and were discovered by Columbus

Dr. Howe explained that when someone says what they wish people would stop saying about their culture, we should not be responding with “What’s wrong with that?” Instead we need to listen. He shared a quote from Margaret Wheatley's “ From Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future":
This is how great changes begin, when people begin talking to each other about their experiences, hopes, and fears.

The group discussion then covered how to ask questions and be an active listener. Dr. Howe commented that Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply (Stephen Covey), and shared several statistics, including:
  • 80% of awake time is spent communicating
  • We spend 45% of awake time listening.
  • 75% of the words are ignored, misunderstood or forgotten
  • Most Adults Listen Actively for 17 Seconds

The remainder of the workshop included training on the multiple types of questions, listening skills, cultural competence, and the idea of race. The workshop ended with an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere and a desire to do more to better our world and break down barriers of intolerance.

Enjoy these photos and video from the workshop and view more at www.facebook.com/HarrietBeecherStowe.


Explore the links featured on our Takeaway Sheet for more information and ways you can take action!  

The Stowe Center thanks Dr. Howe for leading this workshop and for his efforts to embrace and share the importance of multicultural diversity. We look forward to working with Dr. Howe in the future!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 25 Workshop RELOCATED to Carriage House Theater

Due to an incredible number of reservations for tomorrow's "What Can You Do To Fight Intolerance?" workshop, the program has been relocated to the Carriage House Theater at 360 Farmington Avenue. Limited parking for handicapped and seniors is available at the Theater. All other attendees are asked to park at the Stowe Center or on Forest, Gillett or Woodland Streets, all of which are a short walk to the theater.

Please see the map below for the location of the Carriage House Theater in relation to the Stowe Center. Stowe Staff will be positioned along Forest Street and Farmington Avenue to guide you to the program.

We look forward to an outstanding workshop with Dr. Howe tomorrow night!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Women For Windsor CT works to create change locally

In an effort to bring a voice to the women and residents of Windsor, CT, local advocates recently organized Women For Windsor CT. The group, which consists of a dozen women, is rallying around important issues and working to get a local budget passed. Their mission is: Women for Windsor is an organization dedicated to working for the interests of Windsor residents, whether it's in the form of partnering with local charitable organizations like the Windsor Food and Fuel Bank or lobbying for causes that are in the best interest of Windsor residents.

Women for Windsor CT is a great example of community advocates uniting to create change and inspire others. What are you doing to build community locally? What community issues are important to you?

You can read more about Women For Windsor CT on their website or in the July 9 Windsor Women Form New Community Group Hartford Courant article. A special shout-out to Women For Windsor CT member and Stowe Center volunteer Ann Parkhurst, who is living the Stowe Center mission in many ways!

Friday, July 19, 2013

"What Can You Do to Fight Intolerance?" Workshop on July 25, 2013

The trial of George Zimmerman for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen’s racially provocative language, hateful reactions to a bi-racial family featured in a Cheerios commercial, and the Supreme Court’s decision to amend the Voting Rights Act are just a few recent news headlines that demonstrate racism, xenophobia and intolerance are still prevalent problems in our country and world.

To encourage conversation and solution-building, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center presents What Can You Do to Fight Intolerance?, a free Salons at Stowe workshop on July 25 from 5-7 p.m., facilitated by Dr. William A. Howe (CT Department of Education). Workshop participants have called Dr. Howe “an engaging and effective facilitator” and described the experience as “powerful and transforming” and “the most useful workshop I have attended in 25 years.” At the Stowe Center, he will lead a workshop that will be enlightening and inspirational with useful and practical strategies to confront prejudice and build community.

To prepare for the workshop, we recommend exploring any of the following websites:

Reservations are encouraged: 860-522-9258, ext. 317 or Info@StoweCenter.org. Admission is free.

Dr. William Howe is the program manager for culturally responsive education, multicultural education, bullying and harassment, gender equity and civil rights at the Connecticut Department of Education. He is the founder of the New England Conference on Multicultural Education (NECME) and Past President of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Malala: "ONE...can change the world"

On October 9, 2012, while returning home on a school bus, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan's Swat Valley. After miraculously surviving the assassination attempt, and months of extensive medical attention and recovery, Malala has become an international advocate for education. As Katie Baker of The Daily Beast/Newsweek reported, The attack was meant to silence her—but instead it sparked a global wave of support for Malala and her friends and spotlighted the need to fight on behalf of all children for the right to go to school.

Last Friday, July 12, on her 16th birthday, Malala addressed foreign dignitaries and youth delegates at the United Nations and urged them to support the right for girls worldwide to go to school. We at the Stowe Center were especially struck by her quote on the image above, "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world," which closely aligns with the words of Harriet Beecher Stowe herself:

"The way to be great lies though books, now, and not through battles...there is more done with pens than swords..."
Like Stowe, Malala has shown the courage to speak out on injustices, using her voice to inspire action and lead a global movement. We think Stowe would be very proud of Malala, as the Stowe Center is, for turning an act of violence and hatred into a call to action.

What will you do to speak out like Malala and Stowe? What issue inspires you to action? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.
You can read more about Malala's speech HERE or watch the clip below.

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. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Recordings of the 2013 Stowe Prize Program "Inspiring Action: Human Rights in the 21st Century" now available

On May 30, 2013, the Stowe Center presented the biannual Stowe Prize to Michelle Alexander for her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Before the Big Tent presentation of the Stowe Prize, Ms. Alexander joined us for "Inspiring Action: Human Rights in the 21st Century," a panel discussion with Mike Lawlor (CT Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning), Rev. Michael Williams (CT Department of Children & Families), Victoria Steele (community activist), and moderator John Dankosky (host of Where We Live).

If you missed this program, or want to experience it again, a video recording is now available! (below) WNPR's Where We Live also aired an audio recording of the program which you can listen to as a podcast HERE.

Video streaming by Ustream
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the recipient of the Stowe Prize...It is a powerful affirmation of the power of writing to influence change.”
- Michelle Alexander

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Consider Freedom: Reflecting on the Meaning of Independence Day" on July 5, 2013 at the Stowe Center

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, begged the “race question” at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. “Fellow-citizens,” he began, “why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?”*

The Stowe Center continues to mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with special readings of Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on July 5 before each tour. Join sites across southern New England as we listen to these historic speeches and consider their relevance today.

Consider Freedom:
Reflecting on the Meaning of Independence Day
Friday, July 5 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.  
Readings before each tour
Stowe Visitor Center 
For more information, visit Consider Freedom on the Stowe Center website

  “I have never been so na├»ve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle. Race is an issue this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. To work for 'a more perfect union' we need to start to understand complexities that we've never really worked through. [This] requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point.”- Barack Obama at Constitutional Hall in Philadelphia

*courtesy of MassHumanities 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Now accepting entries for the 2014 Student Stowe Prize!

Are you changing the world?  Do you know somebody who is?

The Student Stowe Prize recognizes outstanding writing by United States high school and college students that is making a tangible impact on a social justice issue critical to contemporary society. Issues may include, but are not limited to: race, class and gender. Entries must have been published or publicly presented.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, appalled by the injustice of slavery, wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as a call to action. Using print media and the familiar literary form of telling a story, she shone a harsh light on the American institution of slavery. The book became an international best seller and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.
Complementing the Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize, presented in 2011 to Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas D. Kristof for Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and in 2013 to Michelle Alexander for The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the Student Stowe Prize is presented in alternating years with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Prize.

Student Stowe Prize for High School Students
The winning student will be featured at a program and award ceremony in Hartford, Connecticut, receive $1,000, and have their work published on the Stowe Center website.

Student Stowe Prize for College Students
The winning student will be featured at a program and award ceremony in Hartford, Connecticut, receive $2,500, and have their work published on the Stowe Center website.

Visit our 2014 Student Stowe page for official guidelines and rules. Entries are due January 10, 2014. 

2012 Student Stowe Prize winner Hannah Morgan with Annette Gordon Reed and Katherine Kane.