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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bernice King on civil rights and Trayvon Martin

When it comes to race and civil rights, the two leading stories of 2013 have been the ruling in the Trayvon Martin murder trial and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Both have been widely covered in the press as well as in our Stowe Center Programs: Trayvon Martin in our July 25 What Can You Do To Fight Intolerance? workshop with Dr. Bill Howe, and the March on Washington in our April 11 Have We Overcome? Salon with Victoria Christgau and Deacon Arthur L. Miller.

In an interview with Newsweek, Bernice King, youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, discussed both her father's legacy and the Trayvon Martin case. From the perspective of Dr. King's daughter, how far have we come and where must we go next? Read the interview HERE

Bernice King, CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty)

After reading the article, how far have we come and where must we go next? Please share your comments below!

Friday, September 27, 2013

When is a child a slave? An interdisciplinary colloquium on October 18, 2013 at UCONN

Though humans have enslaved one another for millennia, there are more people enslaved today than at any other point in history. Most tragic is the enslavement of innocent children though human and labor trafficking. Join the University of Connecticut for When is a child a slave? Children’s Labor And Children’s Rights, 1760-2014, an interdisciplinary colloquium on Friday, October 18th, 2013 from 11am-4:30pm. For more information, see the flier and schedule of speakers below or contact Anna Mae Duane at amduane1@gmail.com.

This colloquium, and the publication that will emerge from it, argues that children occupy a critical lacuna in discussions of slavery coerced labor and trafficking, whether our focus is on the nineteenth century or the twenty-first. Until we acknowledge largely undertheorized assumptions about the recipient of human rights (often idealized as a rights-bearing, autonomous adult) we cannot address the economic and social forces that expose children to coerced labor and slave-like conditions. Thus we argue that childhood studies can expose gaps in how we think about, study and teach the history of coerced labor. As we critique and discard outmoded and inaccurate ideas innocent cherubs and heroic rescues, we are in a position to more effectively advocate for solutions that  address the needs of affected individuals and their families.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miss America 2014 welcomed with racist comments on social media

“I have to rise above that,” she said. “I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.”
- Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014 

On Sunday, September 15, the country watched eagerly as the Miss America Organization, "one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women," prepared to crown the 2014 Miss America in the 87th annual pageant. The winner, Nina Davuluri of New York, is the first Indian-American to win the highly sought-after title, but this great achievement in cultural diversity was met instead with racist and hateful comments on social media. 

Comments like "Miss New York is an Indian...With all do respect, this is America" and "Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda" (these being some of the least harsh responses) flooded Twitter and the internet. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, responded that “It is deeply troubling that the crowning of the first woman of Indian descent to win the Miss America pageant – an achievement to be celebrated – has been greeted with a series of racist and hate-filled messages on Twitter and other social media."

"Racist Twitter Attacks Miss America," a video montage of Twitter comments made following the Miss America pageant. Courtesy of The Daily Beast/Newsweek. 

In July we hosted Dr. Bill Howe for What Can You Do to Fight Intolerance?, a workshop on cultural diversity and competency. Dr. Howe addressed the racism, xenophobia and intolerance that are prevalent problems in our country and the need to fight such injustices. One exercise involved finding a stranger in the audience and sharing what people say about you based on your race or ethnicity. The group listened and learned about how quick people are to judge others simply by appearance and stereotypes - precisely what happened to Nina Davuluri. Dr. Howe provided strategies for overcoming discrimination and working to increase cultural competency, which can be read in our blog post HERE. These resources are especially timely and the racist comments following the Miss America pageant are yet another call to action on cultural diversity. 

Nina Davuluri has taken a strong stance against the racist response to her crowning, stating that “I have to rise above that...I always viewed myself as first and foremost American.” In an effort to combat the adversity she is experiencing, her personal platform for 2014 will be "Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency," a social media campaign to celebrate diversity and encourage cultural competency. Visit http://www.missamerica.org for more information and to get involved. 

In light of the Miss America pageant and Dr. Howe's workshop, what will you do to improve cultural competency? What was your reaction to the racist social media response to Nina Davuluri's crowning?  Would you be interested in attending another Stowe Center diversity workshop in the future? Share your comments below!

For more information about the racist response to Nina Davuluri's crowning as Miss America, we suggest one of the articles below: 


TIME Magazine
"Miss America Victory Marred by Racist Slurs"
by Sophie Brown

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Make being an activist easier - subscribe to our Salon blog today!

We've added a new subscription feature to our Salons at Stowe blog! Now with just a few clicks you can officially subscribe to this blog and receive email notifications when a new post is added.

Simply type your email address in the field below and click "Subscribe," or do the same using the "Subscribe to Salons at Stowe by email!" feature in the information bar to the right. You will then receive a verification email with a link - click the link to confirm your address and you will be subscribed.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

At National Book Festival, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" still considered a book that "shaped the world"

Shortly after posting yesterday's piece on Banned Books Week, a friend of the Stowe Center sent us the photo below from last weekend's 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival. The white board encouraged visitors to the National Mall to share their response to "What book do you think shaped the world?" Our favorite banned book made it on to the board! Can you find Uncle Tom's Cabin below?

Notice how many titles written on the board are books that are frequently banned, both historically and today. Is it a coincidence that books that go against what is deemed "acceptable" are often those that create the most change and "shape the world"?

Imagine our country without the texts above. Which book listed do you consider most influential on American or world history? Do you see this board as an inspiration to keep fighting for what you believe in, even when others try to silence your words? When have you felt banned?

(Thanks to Luke Boyd for sharing the photo!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Banned Books Week!

Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, has been banned since it was first published in 1852, but for different reasons over the years: too political; too offensive; too vulgar. Stowe herself sought to address those who challenged the work in A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853) but the controversy continues today, the book even coming in on BuzzFeed's list of "15 Books Banned For The Most Absurd Reasons Ever." So, who decides what we can read and why? What is offensive to one person may not be to another, but once a book is banned, the opportunity for individuals to decide for themselves vanishes.

This week is Banned Books Week, a national celebration of the freedom to read. Launched in 1982, the week "[focuses] on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books...[and] draws national attention to the harms of censorship." (American Library Association) Events and programs across the country will honor contemporary and classic banned books, including CT Humanities and the Center for the Book's BANNED! event on Wednesday, September 25th at the Mark Twain House and Museum. Listen to writers interpret the theme of being banned through songs, diaries, plays, creative writings, and more. To register for the event, visit their Facebook event.

In recognition of Banned Books Week, and thanks to inspiration from our colleagues at the Center for the Book, Stowe Staff took to the pavement to chalk about the banned classic Uncle Tom's Cabin. See photos below of our chalking party last week and the great depictions and interpretations of Stowe and her novel!

We hope you will also read about our September 2010 Salon Banned Books: Who Decides? for information about Stowe and Twain as banned authors resources about taking action on banned books.

Do you read banned books? Share your favorite banned book in the comments section below!

Friday, September 20, 2013

UN Women's new Director will focus on education worldwide

Earlier this week we posted about the 2012 movie Won't Back Down, a film about education in low-income communities and the importance of closing the achievement gap. Shortly after sharing, we came across a timely article from the United Nations about their new Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). According to UN News, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who took her position in August, has made the education of girls around the world a chief priority. Her goal is that by 2015, all children - boys and girls, worldwide - will be able to "complete a full course of primary schooling."

Mlambo-Ngcuka's message also coincides with the efforts of 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai who, after being shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in Pakistan and recovering, is speaking out on the importance of education for women and girls. You can read more about Mala in our July post, Malala: "ONE...can change the world."

Listen to Mlambo-Ngcuka's remarks below. How do you take action on improving education and closing the achievement gap locally?

“Education is one of the founding services that all women and girls need to access in order for us to make a difference...Education is the foundation for everything we need to do to succeed.” 
- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reinterpretation: the exciting re-imagining of the Stowe House experience

The Stowe Center has undertaken an effort to reconsider the visitor experience in the Harriet Beecher Stowe House and how we share Stowe’s story with our guests. This process, called “reinterpretation,” is the result of years of brainstorming, group discussions and re imagining. It is part of a larger multi-year collections preservation project to upgrade the interior of our central exhibit, the Stowe House.

Picture of Linda NorrisThis is a very exciting time for the Stowe Center, as the house has not been reconsidered or reinterpreted since its opening in 1968. Reinterpretation is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience - and now is our time! This past spring we began working with interpretive consultant Linda Norris. Linda has worked with museums and organizations across the world to help them shape compelling stories and experiences. She has made several visits to Hartford to lead staff and community brainstorm sessions, reinterpretation exercises and prototyping, and has featured us in three posts on her blog, The Uncataloged Museum:

The posts have generated discussion about museums, historic sites, and visitor experiences among many museum professionals and tourists. Be sure to read her insight on her visits!

The goal of the reinterpretation is to bring the call to action that is present in our public programs (ie. Salons) into the Stowe House. How might we do that? What would you like to see as part of the Stowe Center experience? What experience in the House would inspire you to take action on an issue that is important to you? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below - who knows, your idea may impact our plans for the House!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Join us for our first fall Salon on September 26: Hartford's Asylum Hill: 2013 and Beyond

Join this discussion about Hartford's Asylum Hill and learn more about the aspirations of people who live and work in this vibrant neighborhood.

Over the past few months, the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut and The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation have engaged people throughout the community in a series of conversations and held in-depth interviews with many community leaders in which they have shared rich perspectives and thoughtful suggestions.

We will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the insights gained through these conversations, including the strong desire for a safe and more connected community, some of the underlying conditions and challenges that stand in the way of change, and ideas people have about how they might like to step forward to achieve their aspirations about living and working in Asylum Hill.

Rich Harwood will also share how the Harwood Institute counsels and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and, using the Harwood framework and tools, change how communities work together for the better.

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut worked on this project, which was commissioned and underwritten by The Hartford.   Representatives from United Way and The Hartford will be in attendance.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Won't Back Down" film on the education gap

Past Stowe Center programs - including the 2011 Call to Action with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman John B. Larson, Connecticut legislators, policy makers, community activists, students and individuals - have focused on education and closing the achievement gap. The 2012 film Won't Back Down, starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter, tells a story that addresses many of the struggles and challenges discussed in these programs. Inspired by actual events, the film centers around two mothers whose kids are failing in an urban Pittsburgh school. Frustrated by the reality that their children are not receiving a suitable education, they "join forces to take back the school...turn it into a place of learning...[and] change the school for the better." (Douglas Young) 

The movie's tag line, "If you can't beat the system...change it," emphasizes the idea of taking action. With the same message as the Stowe Center's Salons and programs, the plot proves that we each have the power to create change: Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) realized that if she wanted her daughter to have a better education, she had to stand up and work to make a difference. Would you have that same strength, drive and commitment? 

Visit Won't Back Down on Facebook and watch the trailer below to learn more about the film. It will leave you with a sense of urgency and confidence that, in fact, one can make a difference


Monday, September 16, 2013

Announcing the fall Salons at Stowe series!

September marks the start of our fall Salons at Stowe series! Join us for dynamic community conversations and learn how you can take action on important issues in today's world. 

This season's lineup includes programs about Hartford's Asylum Hill Neighborhood, teaching empathy and the issues facing the children of incarcerated parents. 

To RSVP for any of these Salons, please email your name, number of attendees, and zip code to Info@StoweCenter.org  or call 860-522-9258, ext. 317. See you at the Stowe Center!

Click the image above for a larger view. You can then right click and click "Save As" to save the Salon schedule to your computer and print a hard copy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Community Conversation: Race-baiting on Wednesday September 18

Simply Blue Studios/Carrie Pratt
Eric Deggans, author of Race-baiter To Speak at Park Road Playhouse
September 18 at 7 PM
Ticketed event
 -- mention the Stowe Center for discount on advance ticket purchase
Eric Deggans, author of Race-baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation will kick off the “Conversations: A Community Forum” series presented by the  Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society. The event takes place at the Playhouse on Park (244 Park Rd, West Hartford) on Wednesday, September 18 at 7 p.m.   Stowe Center members and friends are eligible for advance purchase tickets for $5. Click  HERE for more information

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kicking off another year of CT Girlcott

The steps of Hartford's Charter Oak Cultural Center were alive with enthusiasm on Monday for the kickoff of CT Girlcott 2014. Inspired by Eve Ensler's (author of The Vagina Monologues) visit in 2011 and discussion about the cosmetics industry, Girlcott is a movement of women willing to go makeup free and donate the money usually spent in a month on cosmetics to organizations that benefit women and girls in Connecticut and around the world, while raising awareness around body image and the relationship between women and the makeup they wear.

Monday's press conference was attended by many women leaders from across Hartford and the state who were founders of the Girlcott movement, including Rabbi Donna Berman (Charter Oak Cultural Center), Senator Beth Bye, CT First Lady Cathy Malloy, Dr. Mala Matacin (University of Hartford), and the Stowe Center's own Executive Director Katherine Kane, among others. Each gave remarks about the success of the movement and its ability to inspire women and girls, and the need to give attention to gender issues. 

Emily Boushee photo
Continuing the conversation on the many challenges women face, Grilcott will continue through 2013 and into 2014. The Charter Oak Cultural Center will host a showing of “Girl Rising,” a documentary about the power and importance of educating women, on October 2. After the success of the “Revealed: Images of Women Leaders Who Bared to Make Change” exhibit last spring, Grilcott will sponsor “Stop Telling Women to Smile” by Tatyana Fazlailizdeh in March 2014, an exhibition of portraits of women who have faced gender-based street harassment. 

Rabbi Donna Berman concluded the conference by saying “As wonderful as this is, this is only the beginning. Just you watch.”

For more information, visit www.ctgirlcott.org and read recent articles in the Hartford Courant and 's article CT News Junkie.

This year’s mission is to raise awareness about the challenges and issues facing women in 2014: body image, objectification, violence, self-esteem, pay inequity, the epidemic of sexual assault, etc. Ultimately, it is about a Girlcott (as opposed to boycott) of policies, attitudes, and practices that allow gender injustice to continue.

(Images courtesy of CT News Junkie)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation Training on September 16, 2013 at Asylum Hill Congregational Church (free event)

Asylum Hill Congregational Church will host Victoria Christgau (a past Salons at Stowe featured guest) from the CT Center for Nonviolence for "Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation Training," a free event on Monday, September 16 from 7-9pm. The program will be "a brief overview of Kingian Nonviolence: the philosophy and methodology of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from which individuals and communities learn how to address the issue of conflict without resorting to violence." Christgau will discuss discuss some historical context as well as the Six Principles of Nonviolence and how both are used to promote peace.

logoTo RSVP, contact John Joyce at 860-539-4599 or jjoyceandall@aol.com. The event will be held in the Twichell Room at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, 814 Asylum Ave. Hartford.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A 9/11 call to action

On September 11, 2001, America and the world witnessed some of the most horrific tragedies and acts of terror in history. As we mark 12 years since the attacks and remember the lives lost that day, we encourage you to consider this anniversary a call to action. Harriet Beecher Stowe used her voice, through writing, to call attention to the injustices she saw in her day. Today, in a world of discrimination, hate, intolerance, violence, and other injustices, what will you do to speak out? How will you honor the heroes of 9/11?

We invite you to share how you will honor the 9/11 heroes in the comment space below. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

50 Years of the Civil-Rights Movement—in 10 Charts

August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech. As our nation considers how far we have come in the last half-century, Newsweek and The Daily Beast examine national changes in education completion, incarceration, and income and employment rates (to name a few areas) in "50 Years of the Civil-Rights Movement—in 10 Charts." Below is one of the charts: shifting incarceration statistics.

How far have we come? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

If you missed President Obama's remarks on the anniversary of the March, be sure to watch the video recording below.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The power of books to start or instigate wars

As Congress considers President Obama's request for support of a strike against Syria, a Los Angeles Times article by Hector Tobar discusses the power of books and writing in impact wars. "Four books on Syria to help understand its troubled history" considers which texts today provide accurate background on Syria, and opens its argument with Harriet Beecher Stowe and the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

"Books can start wars, or shape how they are fought.
Abraham Lincoln famously told Harriet Beecher Stowe that her book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” started the Civil War."

Uncle Tom's Cabin contributed to the outbreak of war by personalizing the political and economic arguments about slavery. Stowe's informal, conversational writing style inspired people in a way that political speeches, tracts and newspapers accounts could not. Uncle Tom's Cabin helped many 19th-century Americans determine what kind of country they wanted.

What book today will inspire us, the citizens, to support a particular view on Syria or other issues? How will you use your voice, like Stowe, to have your opinions heard and to change the views of others? 

When Harriet Beecher Stowe met Abraham Lincoln on December 2, 1862, he allegedly greeted her by saying "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war." The above statue is at the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk in Hartford

Friday, September 6, 2013

Implicit racism in Miley Cyrus' VMA performance?

"When I teach theater history to undergraduates I meet very few students who have heard of minstrelsy before I tell them about it. Even when I teach graduate students, I find that many of them think American theater history began with Eugene O'Neill. They are completely unaware that the first nationally popular American play was Uncle Tom's Cabin, transformed onstage from an anti-slavery text into a racist spectacle whose influence survives till today."
- Holly L. Derr, The Atlantic 

Miley Cyrus' performance at the MTV Video Music Awards (August 25, 2013) has been a hot topic in the news, criticized by many for being overly sexual and an over-the-top spectacle. But several are now critiquing Cyrus from a different angle - her performance as a "minstrel show." 

The Atlantic (a periodical for which Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote frequently) recently featured "The Pervading Influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin in Pop Culture," an article by Holly L. Derr which connects Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin to pop culture, specifically Cyrus' performance. She calls attention to  "Cyrus, surrounded by black women half-dressed as animals, attempted and perverted a form of black dancing called twerking," and elements of the performance which recall "Tom shows" and racist 19th-20th century plays. 

Other journalists agree. Jody Rosen, author of "The 2013 VMAs Were Dominated by Miley’s Minstrel Show" for Vulture, wrote
"Cyrus has spent a lot of time recently toying with racial imagery. We’ve seen Cyrus twerking her way through the video for her big hit “We Can’t Stop,” professing her love for “hood music,” and claiming spiritual affinity with Lil’ Kim. Last night...her act tipped over into what we may as well just call racism: a minstrel show...."
Some took opposition, though, to Derr and Rosen, claiming they were reading too far into the performance, that Cyrus was not being racist. Conversing with many followers via Twitter, Rosen retorted (@jodyrosen) "Specifically, she's drawing on a long tradition of hyper-sexualized depicitions of African-American women" and "You might say, as some critics of my piece have, that I'm seeing ghosts. And you'd be right. I'm seeing history." 

Little Eva at center with Topsy and Uncle Tom at right, by Edwin Longsden Long. (Wikimedia)

Miley Cyrus and backup dancers at the 2013 MTV VMAs (ABC News)

"Cyrus wasn't wearing literal blackface in her performance, but the tradition of a little white girl at the center of a minstrel performance is as old as minstrelsy itself. One of the most popular characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin was Little Eva: the blonde, lily-white daughter of conscientious slave owners who is adored by white and black people alike. The uncivilized slave Topsy, who says that she cannot love anyone because no one has ever loved her, is nevertheless moved to tears by Eva's death and vows thereafter to be good."
- Holly L. Derr, The Atlantic 

What was your response to Miley Cyrus' performance? Do you agree that it hearkened back to minstrel shows and racism popularized by "Tom show" performances of Uncle Tom's Cabin? Share your reactions by clicking "Post a Comment" below. 

To learn more about Uncle Tom's Cabin and it's evolution on the stage, be sure to read John W. Frick's new book Uncle Tom's Cabin on the American Stage and Screen, available in the Stowe Center Museum Shop and online. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Event Recap: America's Climate Century (8.29.13 author talk)

This is the issue that none of us really ask for, but is the issue we face. And there are people out there who are depending on us – and we need to act, and can act. 
- Senator Robert Hogg

We were honored to welcome Senator Robert Hogg (D-IA) last Thursday to discuss his book America's Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for America in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do about It. Hogg shared his personal experiences with climate change which spurred him to action - including an unprecedented flood in 2008 in Cedar Rapids, IA that caused billions of dollars in disaster damage - and summarized several of the big points made in the book. Stewart J. Hudson, Vice President of the National Audubon Society and Executive Director of Audubon Connecticut, facilitated a conversation around the book, Sen. Hogg's activism, climate change, and other environmental issues.

Thanks to our friends at Connecticut Network (CT-N) the entire program was recorded and is now available to watch online! If you missed the event, or if you want to rewatch it, you can view it HERE.

Throughout the talk, Hogg highly recommended that climate change activists visit 350.org, "A global movement to solve the climate crisis." The Great March for Climate Action was also discussed, a march of 1,000 "climate patriots" from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. starting March 1; the largest coast-to-coast march in U.S. history.

Following the program, Senator Hogg shared some thoughts about Harriet Beecher Stowe, her impact, and how both related to his own work and activism. You can watch his clip below.

Are you a "climate patriot" and environmental justice advocate? Why do you support these issues and speak out? We encourage you to share your stories and thoughts in the "comments" section below!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Modern day slavery in the U.S. and abroad in the news

Did you know that there are more people held in slavery today than at any other point in history? Two recent news stories share reports of modern day slavery in the United States and Syria, including sex and labor slavery. One story explores the story of two California men arrested for growing marijuana and later discovered to be holding a 15-year-old girl as a sex slave, and the other reports on the arrest of a member of the Saudi royal family accused of holding a Kenyan woman in domestic servitude.

Feds: California teen alleges captivity, sexual abuse on marijuana 'farm'
by Natalia Perez-Segnini

The criminal complaint against the two men -- Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24 -- outlines the allegations of a 15-year-old girl's ordeal of being held in a coffin-like box for hours on end at a marijuana-growing "farm" where she worked trimming plants.

Newsweek and the Daily Beast
The Princess & the Peon: Saudi Royal’s Slave Labor Charges
by Eliza Shapiro and Christine Pelisek
Saudi Princess-Human Trafficking
It’s the story of the princess and her peon: a member of the Saudi royal family was arrested (PDF) in her Irvine, Calif., condo just after midnight on Tuesday for allegedly forcing a Kenyan woman to work as a domestic servant against her will.

What are your reactions to these stories - one of American "farmers" and the other of Saudi royalty - in reading them side-by-side? What do they say about modern day slavery across the world and action that is being taken? Share your reactions in the "comments" section below. 

To learn more about modern day slavery and what you can do to take action, we encourage you to visit Free the Slaves and explore other posts on this blog about human trafficking.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Congressman John Larson to re-introduce Presidential Youth Council Resolution

Last Thursday, Congressman John Larson and Connecticut's First Congressional District Youth Cabinet hosted A Forum on Youth Engagement at the Legislative Office Building. Speakers included members of the Youth Cabinet, Larson, Governor Dannel Malloy, Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Thaddeus Ferber of the Forum for Youth Investment, and Chair of the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council Alex Wirth. The forum included discussion about engaging youth and how governments, non-profits, and companies can establish youth advisory groups. You can watch a recording of the forum on Connecticut Network (CT-N).

 In 2008, Congressman Larson formed the Youth Cabinet "comprised of two students from each high school within Connecticut’s First Congressional District....[to provide] a unique and valuable perspective on shaping American policy." The first group of its kind, the Youth Cabinet model has been adopted by many Congressional leaders across the county. Over the past few years, Larson has been working to form a similar cabinet to serve as advisor to the President, and at the August 29 Forum he announced his plans to re-introduce a U.S. House of Representatives resolution calling for the establishment of a Presidential Youth Council.

Like Congressman Larson and the Youth Cabinet, the Stowe Center believes that each person has a voice and the ability to create change. Our school programs, in particular, engage students in conversations about issues important to them, and help them realize that they can follow the legacy of Harriet Beecher Stowe by speaking up and fighting against injustices - they too have a voice and can take action. We applaud the effort to establish a Presidential Youth Council, and hope that you will "Like" their Facebook page and ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor the resolution.

"The perspectives of our youth should be an essential part of shaping policy that directly impacts them. That's why a Presidential Youth Council is so important...I urge Members to join me in support of this resolution to truly create a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
 - Congressman John Larson

Monday, September 2, 2013

President Kennedy passes out pens on June 10, 1963, after signing the Equal Pay Act.
June marked the 50th anniversary of The Equal Pay Act signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. While much has been done in the past half century to increase fairness between men and women in the work place, we have not yet reached equality.

On this Labor Day, listen to NPR's
50 Years After The Equal Pay Act, Gender Wage Gap Endures. The story considers not the pay differences based just on gender, but discrimination towards mothers.
The number of pregnancy and maternity discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has steadily increased since the late 1990s.
Today, in an effort to make wage differences transparent, the Obama administration is working to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed. You can take action by learning more about the act on the National Organization for Women website and tracking the bill on GovTrack.us.