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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

"Australian Mining Magnate Announces Deal to End Slavery, Forced Labor in Pakistan"

"The issue with slavery is that it is everywhere...You cannot afford a world with slavery, which literally takes someone and turns them into a machine."
- Andrew Forrest, Fortescue Metals Group 

Just this morning we posted "A Global Look at Human Trafficking," a graphic from UNICEF which provides staggering figures and statistics surrounding human trafficking across the world, and last week shared the recently-released Global Slavery Index which reports on the estimated number of enslaved people by country. In examining both resources, you will notice a high prevalence of modern day slavery in the Middle East, particularly Pakistan which has an estimated number of 2,000,000-2,200,000 enslaved people. Although the situation is mind-blowing and tragic, a news report earlier this week brought a glimpse of hope. 

Andrew Forrest, founder and chair of Australian mining company Fortescue Metals Group, announced an agreement to make coal conversion technology available to the Punjab province of Pakistani, in exchange for the government's introduction of legislation to end modern day slavery. A philanthropist and founder of the Walk Free Foundation (which created the Global Slavery Index), Forrest has convinced the government to introduce laws which will "combat the practice of slavery as a result of indenture, debt, or inheritance." The energy technology that his company will develop to make use of Pakistan's deposits of lignite coal will be provided pro-bono and will help the country work towards "energy independence for the Punjab and the eradication of slavery in all of the Punjab."

For more information about Forrest's announcement and his goal of ending debt slavery and forced labor in Pakistan, read Philanthropy News Digest's "Australian Mining Magnate Announces Deal to End Slavery, Forced Labor in Pakistan."

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

A Global Look at Human Trafficking

The graphic below is a digest of the staggering figures and statistics surrounding human trafficking. This resource from UNICEF provides a global look at trafficking and the work that still needs to be done. For more on how you can take action, visit UNICEF's End Trafficking Project page and explore the resources from the Stowe Center's 2013 How to be an Abolitionist Workshop.


We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Slavery is Not a Thing of the Past: What YOU can do to end human trafficking

Leah Schoen, an advocate for social engagement and contributer to The Good Speaks Project, wrote a post on www.goodspeaks.org called "Slavery is Not a Thing of the Past" in recognition of Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Her piece not only focuses on the issue of human trafficking but on what you can do to help end this incredible injustice. Read her recommendations and resources below, or click HERE to read her post.

Support these campaigns to end slavery and human trafficking:
  • United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking 
  • The Blue Campaign is the unified voice for Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to combat human trafficking. Working in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations, Blue Campaign strives to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice. The Blue Campaign provides information on training and outreach, how traffickers operate, and victim assistance to help keep 
  • CF (Compassion First)'s  mission is to live for the sake of others. They seek to bring healing, restoration and most importantly the means for a bright and hopeful future in the lives of women and young girls who have been sexually trafficked. Compassion First is promoting a fundraiser to raise $17,500 by February 11th  (National Freedom Day) 
  • International Rescue Committee works to break this cycle of violence by helping survivors to heal, delivering care to victims of sexual assault, and by bringing women together for mutual support. Through innovative skills programs, the International Rescue Committee helps women gain economic independence.

“Worldwide 12.3 million children and adults work in forced labor. This is modern day slavery, and it is linked to the products you buy.”  The Anti-Slavery International’s Slavery and What We Buy campaign shows that slavery can occur at different stages, from the production of raw materials such as cocoa or cotton, to the manufacture of goods such as garments, toys or fireworks.

The Free Forever Campaign is a project of Made by Survivors, in partnership with Women’s Interlink Foundation, India, to build a shelter for 125 girls in Jalpaiguri, India.  They sell elegant, hand-made jewelry, bags, scarves and other gifts.  Check out their online store.

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Now is the time" to take action on human trafficking

For individuals everywhere, now is the time to learn about the way this crime intersects with our lives, and to learn what we can do to contribute to a solution.  That requires sharing information about how consumer practices fuel the demand for forced labor, and being aware of this crime in our communities and of what to do if we see it.
Check out the U.S. Department of State's Official Blog and recent post about National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The post emphasizes why now is the time to take action on trafficking, urges readers to educate themselves and others "about this crime," and provides resources and information about what local organizations are doing to raise awareness this month.

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"10 Things You Didn't Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking (And What You Can Do About It)"

globeWhen the Stowe Center hosts a program around modern day slavery and human trafficking, we often hear "What can I do to solve this problem?" or "This problem is much larger than I thought, I certainly cannot do anything to change it" from participants.

The truth, however, is that we all have the power to make change no matter how large or small. The Huffington Post released "10 Things You Didn't Know About Slavery, Human Trafficking (And What You Can Do About It)" last week in honor of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The article not only outlines facts about modern day slavery but ways you can take action.

50 states mapOne particular resource on their "10 Things" list is the 2013 State Report Cards - Protected Innocence Challenge from the organization Shared Hope. The report cards provide grades and analyses for each state based on their efforts to end human trafficking. Connecticut received an exceptionally low score of 62 and final grade of D. Read the Connecticut Report Card 2013 to learn about prevention efforts and results in Connecticut and recommendations for improving action in our state. Not from Connecticut? Select your state HERE.

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Racism at The Grammys?

MacklemoreKendrick-GrammyLast night, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) presented The Grammys, a night to celebrate the music industry and recognize outstanding musicians. While Twitter and Facebook were active throughout the evening, the social media world erupted after Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won the Grammy for Best Rap Album over Kendrick Lamar, the assumed front-runner. Other nominees in the category were Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake.

Tweets and posts that began as messages of shock from viewers surprised by the announcement of Best Rap Album, soon changed in sentiment as some criticized NARAS for being racist.

The Wall Street Journal addressed the issue this morning in "Were Other Rappers Snubbed By Macklemore’s Grammy Sweep?"
Macklemore is one of the few prominent white rappers, and his big win set up a racially-fueled firestorm on social media both for and against him. “Hip-Hop got robbed last night. That other cat is not hip hop, he’s pop. #Upset,” read one message on Twitter. “Macklemore winning over Kendrick Lamar is just proof the #Grammys are still and always will be #racist” said another.
Another commenter shot back “Some ppl I see saying “Macklemore won cause he’s white” are the same folks saying”ppl that disagree with Obama are racist.” Just stop!”
Those who felt Macklemore's win was the result of a racist NARAS committee were fueled by the artist's text to Lamar later that night in which he shared that Lamar should have won the award: “"You got robbed. I wanted you to win. You should have. It's weird and it sucks that I robbed you."

One blogger, Nikki Lynette, expressed true frustration over the win in her post "How I feel about Macklemore winning 4 Grammys & Kendrick winning none.," but turned away from racism and to the problem of few young artists voting for Grammy winners:
You wanna know why I think Kendrick didn't win any awards? It's because there are not enough younger people who are knowledgeable and passionate about rap joining NARAS and voting for what we love. If you don't believe me then go ask your favorite indie hip hop artist if they ever tried to join NARAS so they can vote...Personally, I don't think playing the race card is the solution here. If it was, I'd whip that bitch out and wave it through the air, but nah. Keep the race card in your pocket today, this ain't that.

What is your reaction to the Best Rap Album Grammy response? Do you think the committee selected Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for the color of their skin and as a "safe" option rather than on musical merit? Or are reactions that white performers should not win Best Rap Album racist themselves? Share your reactions in the comments section below.  

On a related note, if you do not follow music awards, check out how Macklemore and Ryan Lewis used their American Music Award acceptance speech to address racial profiling and tragedies such as Trayvon Martin's murder.

January 28 screening of "Miss Representation" at CCSU

Tomorrow, Central Connecticut State University will host a screening of the film "Miss Representation," which reveals "how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America." See below for more details and the official film trailer.

Date: Tuesday - January 28, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: Torp Theater, Davidson Hall, Central Connecticut State University

Barbies, baby beauty contests, and you. What is the media telling you about girls and women?

Join us for a showing of "Miss Representation," a powerful documentary on the media's portrayal of women and girls, and what that means.

A panel discussion will follow, with Susan Campbell as moderator and three panelists: Teresa Younger, executive director of the state's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women; Mala Matacin, co-chair and associate professor of University of Hartford's department of psychology, and Cindy White, communication professor at CCSU.

Friday, January 24, 2014

No Name-Calling Week 2014: January 20-24

Today marks the last day of Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network's (GLSEN) No Name-Calling Week 2014. See a message below about their efforts and ways you can take action and inspire young people to help end bullying!

No Name-Calling Week 2014: January 20-24!

Join us for our 10th Anniversary!
We believe in celebrating kindness while working to create safe schools free of name-calling, bullying and bias.
Motivated by this simple, yet powerful, idea — and supported by over 60 national partner organizations — No Name-Calling Weeks are organized each year in schools across the nation.
We want to help you put a spotlight on name-calling and bullying in your school.
Be one of the brave, and join us in celebrating No Name-Calling Week January 20-24, 2014. Whether you’re a teacher, student, guidance counselor, coach, librarian or bus driver, show you care by organizing a week of activities at your school aimed at ending name-calling once and for all. Register to receive updates and offers!
Plan a week in your school.
Use our planning tools to help in your preparations.
Celebrate kindness through lessons and activities.
We have plans for elementarymiddle, or high schools.
Show off!
Learn about and submit to the No Name-Calling Week Creative Expression Exhibit.

Today is National Compliment Day!

0a333Did you know that today is National Compliment Day? Started in 1998 by Kathy Chamberlin (Hopkinton, NH) and Debby Hoffman (Concord, NH), it "is an “unofficial” holiday that is celebrated by offering sincere compliments to people you know and those you may just be meeting."

So on this National Compliment Day, we salute YOU, our faithful followers and activists, and congratulate you on the many things you do to make this world a better place and your work to create positive change. We appreciate your support of the Stowe Center and our mission, and value that you are being "the change you wish to see in the world."

Keep up the great work and reward yourself with a peanut butter sandwich (it's also National Peanut Butter Day!).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Seven leaders dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls

Earlier this month, WomensEnews.org featured the profiles of seven activists - six women and one man - who work to improve the lives of women and girls. In "21 Women Leaders 2014 - Seven Who Speak Across Our Generations," WeNews Staff shared seven stories as part of their "21 Leaders for the 21st Century" which recognizes people who "advance the idea that women's rights are human rights across the globe, carrying forward decades of activism and dramatically changing what the future holds for this generation of emerging women."

While all seven stories are inspirational, we would like to highlight Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. who founded the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and raises awareness of the realities of modern day slavery and human trafficking. Mr. Morris' recognition as recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism is particularly timely during this National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month (January 2014).

Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.: Inheritor of Anti-Slavery Activism
Recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism

Ken Morris
For the first time in 21 Leaders' history, a man has been selected as the recipient of the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism.
Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. is a direct descendant of two of the best-known Americans from the 19th and early 20th centuries: Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. He continues his family's legacy of anti-slavery and educational work as the founder and president of the Atlanta-based public charity Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
The father of two teenage daughters, Morris was deeply touched by a 2003 National Geographic Magazine cover story called "21st Century Slaves," which outlined the contemporary manifestations of slavery, including the sexual exploitation of young children. He decided at that moment the only alternative was to act and, calling upon his famous ancestors for guidance, he began pursuing new solutions to this ancient crime against humankind.
Today, Morris and his organization educate young people who are most vulnerable to the dangers and injustice of human trafficking. As part of the organization's work, he speaks at schools across the country, shares history-based service-learning curricula, entitled "History, Human Rights and the Power of One," and participates as a leading activist in the anti-trafficking movement. One recent service-learning initiative, "100 Days to Freedom," helped teach students about the Emancipation Proclamation while facilitating their creation of a "New Proclamation of Freedom."
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives' programs seek to educate boys about the injustice of sexual crimes committed against women, encouraging an understanding of women's rights at an early age. They also inform girls on how to prevent and protect themselves from becoming victims of sex trafficking.
Morris quotes his great-great-great grandfather, Frederick Douglass, saying, "It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." He found that this has proven true through his teaching and he hopes young people will follow his lead in educating others. He tells his audiences that everyone "descends from someone who made a difference and you can too."
Even though Morris was aware of it at an early age, his family downplayed his lineage so as not to raise expectations. His activist roots emerged in 2003 and he's never looked back. "We need to know where we've come from in order to know where we're headed," he says.
--By Reshmi Kaur Oberoi

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Global Slavery Index

Are modern day slavery and human trafficking new issues to you? Are you trying to grasp the impact these horrors are having on our world? If so, we encourage you to explore the new Global Slavery Index 2013 which estimates the number of modern slaves across the world, country by country, and shares the work of each government to work to end slavery. The report reveals an astounding 30 million people who are enslaved today, 60,000 being right here in the United States. Read the report below or visit www.globalslaveryindex.org.

  Global Slavery Index 2013 by Ryan M. Baillargeon

We're sharing this resource as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Learn more about the month HERE and check back on this blog for more resources and ways you can take action. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
Although Harriet Beecher Stowe and others fought for the abolition of slavery in the decades before the Civil War, and the Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment abolished slavery, there are more people enslaved today than any other time in history. To raise awareness of human trafficking and modern day slavery, President Obama declared January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In the coming days, we will share resources on human trafficking and ways you can raise awareness and take action.
Our first resource is the Human Trafficking Awareness Month Facebook page. The page provides news about human trafficking cases and links to information about contemporary slavery. Organizers encourage followers to "join us & spread the word!" "Like" their page and visit frequently to learn more about human trafficking and for ways you can create positive change.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"MLK's Dream Of Economic Equality Is Still Far From Realized"

racial economic gap
Last Wednesday we posted about Robert Reich's "Inequality for All," a film that reveals the incredible economic inequities in America. Today, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we share an article which also examines such inequities through the lens of Dr. King's dreams for the future of the country. Through a series of graphs, Jillian Berman of the Huffington Post explores trends in unemployment, median family income, homeownership, and more over time by race, in "MLK's Dream Of Economic Equality Is Still Far From Realized." The statistics show the incredible gaps in achievement and financial success based on race, and the unfinished work of Dr. King and many other activists.


In reading this article and studying the graphs, what most surprised you? What conclusions do you draw? Share your comments below.

And remember that the Stowe Center will honor Dr. King with free tours all day today! Click HERE or visit www.harrietbeecherstowe.org for more information about tours, our bell ringing, towel collection, and talkback about Dr. King.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

This Monday, January 20, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the Corporation for National & Community Service is encouraging Americans "to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service." Below is information from their website about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and how you can serve this year. Explore the projects planned in your area or consider planning a project of your own. How will you honor Dr. King this year? 

What is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service?

After a long struggle, legislation was signed in 1983 creating a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with leading this effort. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a "day on, not a day off." The MLK Day of Service is a part of United We Serve, the President's national call to service initiative. It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a "Beloved Community."

Why Serve on MLK Day of Service?

Dr. King believed in a nation of freedom and justice for all, and encouraged all citizens to live up to the purpose and potential of America by applying the principles of nonviolence to make this country a better place to live—creating the Beloved Community. 
The MLK Day of Service is a way to transform Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and teachings into community action that helps solve social problems. That service may meet a tangible need, or it may meet a need of the spirit. On this day, Americans of every age and background celebrate Dr. King through service projects that strengthen communities, empower individuals, bridge barriers, and create solutions.

How can I serve on MLK Day?

People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can get involved. Just fill in your zip code in the Find a Projectbox to locate a volunteer opportunity in your community or plan your own project.

Learn about Dr. King

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.
Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.
While Dr. King preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, in the final months of his life, his attention was turned to fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during Dr. King's lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line.
Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.
Learn more about Dr. King’s life from The King Center website.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inspiring young people to be anti-hunger leaders

The Stowe Center's school programs aim to inspire young people to emulate 19th century activist Harriet Beecher Stowe and use their voices to make change in their own communities; we aim to empower students and help them identify contemporary societal/social justice issues important to them. Hunger and food justices issues are frequent topics of discussions during our programs, and we are excited to share a new resource from our friends at Youth Service America and their partner, the Sodexo Foundation.

Hot off the press is Engaging A New Generation of Anti-Hunger Leaders: A Semester of Service Response to Childhood Hunger, a resource for teachers and adults working with young anti-hunger advocates. The guide outlines how to address childhood hunger issues with young people, how to start a Semester of Service Program, how schools across the country are engaging this issue, and how to implement hunger advocacy in your school curriculum. The resource is available for free HERE or below.

If you work with young activists, or know a teacher who is looking to inspire young people to action, please utilize and share this resource. Be sure to report back with stories of young people working to combat hunger!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

“Inequality for All”

"Of all developed nations, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income, and we're surging toward even greater inequality." 
- Robert B. Reich

Economic inequities and disparities are human rights issues we often discuss at Stowe Center Salons and programs, in particular the 2011 Call to Action programs planned in conjunction with Congressman John B. Larson and other community organizations. Hartford is a microcosm of the Untied States in the quote above: it is one of the wealthiest cities in the country as the Insurance Capital, yet has widespread social and economic inequities and poverty. 

Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, recently released "Inequality for All," a film about the economic inequalities across America. Reich stated that "One of the best ways to help people understand the challenges we face, is with a movie that can grab an audience and move them to action. And this movie will do exactly that." Check out the preview for his film below:

InequalityForAll.com shares more information about Reich's work and the film, and features an interactive "Take Action" page which helps you determine the best way for you to take action around issues of economic inequality. Which step will you take to make change? Share your comments below!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Slavery By Another Name" screening Thursday, January 16 at Capital Community College

"Slavery By Another Name," a 2012 PBS documentary film, reveals the true story of black Americans following the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. It recounts the forced labor, bondage, and brutality that continued in the South until the start of World War II. The film will be shown this Thursday, January 16 at Capital Community College and will include a panel discussion on the effect of this history on Connecticut residents, including mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

On the heels of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's March on Washington, the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc. in partnership with the Capital Community College and other community organizations will screen and discuss the riveting documentary: "Slavery By Another Name" on Thursday, Jan. 16 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Capital Community College, 950 Main Street, Hartford, 2nd floor Community Room.

After the screening, panelists will discuss how the past has affected Connecticut residents and what the state has been doing to address the issue of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Confirmed panelists are Deputy Majority Leader and State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield; First African-American to run for Governor on the Green Party ticket and the founder of Efficacy, Clifford Wallace Thornton; Motivational speaker and education consultant, Kevin Muhammad; and Social Worker and Founder of My Brother's Keeper Barbara Fair. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Hartford Guardian, Dr. Ann-Marie Adams will moderate.

For more information about Black Leaders To Discuss "Slavery By Another Name" In Connecticut in the Hartford Courant. To learn more about the film, visit SlaveryByAnotherName.com

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Stowe Center honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Stowe Center will open its doors free of charge on January 20, 2014 in honor of Martin Luther King Day. Free tours will be offered all day, 9:30 AM to 5 PM.  Visitors are encouraged to bring new bath towels to be collected by the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut and distributed to local homeless shelters.

At Noon, the Stowe Center joins the King Center and individuals and organizations from around the world to ring bells for peace.  All are encouraged to ring their own bells - real or virtual - to show their commitment to nonviolence and peace.

At 12:30 PM meet in the Stowe Visitor Center to join a discussion of nonviolence with Stowe Center Program Coordinator Sonya Green.  We'll talk about "The Beloved Community," a vision for a world free of violence, including how we can honor Dr. King by abstaining from both physical and gun violence as well as from violence in speech and spirit.

A visit to the Stowe Center provides an intimate glimpse into the life and impact of the author of the groundbreaking anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. The whole family will be inspired by the woman whose words changed the world.  Stop in the Visitor Center to see special exhibits "Who is Uncle Tom?" and "A Moral Battle Cry for Freedom."  Before or after your tour, join in making a "Chain of Change" or shop the Museum Store for unique books and gifts for both children and adults.

January's tour theme is 'Stowe and The Emancipation Proclamation'. Visitors will learn about the role Stowe played in urging President Lincoln to sign the Proclamation. Participants will make connections from Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Civil War and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to the March on Washington 100 years later, the Civil Rights Act and the ongoing drive to secure equality for all.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11: Human Trafficking Awareness Day

http://blog.madeinafreeworld.com/January 11 of each year marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, during which organizations across the country call attention to this issue of modern-day slavery. Today, we share a blog post from Made in a Free World called "Our Friends Working For Freedom" which highlights several human trafficking groups making a difference worldwide.


For more on how you can take action to end human trafficking, we encourage you to explore the Inspiration to Action List and takeaways from our How to Be An Abolitionist Workshop.

Friday, January 10, 2014

How do you teach modern-day slavery in the classroom?

Cotton pickerIf you think back to your middle school, high school and perhaps college days, you will recall learning about slavery and the international slave trade in history class. But how often is modern day slavery taught in the classroom?

Michaela Alfred-Kamara, Education Officer at Anti-Slavery International, recently published "Teaching slavery: tips for tackling the issues in the classroom" in the British publication The Guardian. She suggests using the themes of continuity and change in classes like citizenship, religious education, geography, and English to introduce modern-day slavery and human trafficking; such lessons build connections between the institution of slavery and contemporary human rights. She outlines 5 ways to incorporate contemporary slavery into a class curriculum:
  • Clearly define slavery and avoid conflating related issues
  • Embed slavery in the curriculum
  • illustrate the local and global context and impact of slavery
  • Avoid perpetuating the "poor victims" syndrome
  • Empower students to be modern day abolitionists

Are you a teacher or educator who teaches modern day slavery in the classroom? How do you incorporate the topic into your lessons and how do you inspire your students to be abolitionists? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Take a look at the Stowe Center's School Program Brochure to learn more about our educational programs and how we use the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe to inspire today's young activists. Email SchoolPrograms@stowecenter.org for more on how you can arrange a visit to the Stowe Center!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Young women standing up for their rights

Given our focus this week on the Student Stowe Prize and young people who are #writingforsocialjustice, we thought it fitting to post a CNN piece on girls worldwide who are advocating for change. In "Malala is not alone: Five inspirational young women standing up for their rights" CNN shares the stories of Urmila Chaudhary of Nepal, Fatmata Conteh of Sierra Leone, Parvati Pujari of India, Marcela of El Salvador, and Fabiola Bongbenuoh of Cameroon, young leaders and social advocates who are speaking out on human rights issues.

Do you know a young person who is also standing up for social justice issues by advocating through writing and creating a demonstrable impact? If so, encourage them to submit their work to the 2014 Student Stowe Prize. Submissions are due by this Friday, January 10. For more information, visit the Student Stowe Prize page on our website or email StudentStowePrize@stowecenter.org.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Transforming Lives at N Street Village"

Hannah Morgan, a former student at the University of Maryland, was the 2012 Student Stowe Prize College Winner. A budding journalist, Hannah submitted her entry from Street Sense, a newspaper sold by homeless individuals in Washington D.C., shining a light on the harrowing life stories of those living on the edge of society.  Whereas many avoid making eye contact with people living on the street, Ms. Morgan wandered the city talking to homeless people and learning their stories.  She gave voice to their struggles through a series of articles which were also published by the Huffington Post and DC Impact.  “I heard harrowing tales of survival through hypothermia season, hurricanes, drug abuse and family tragedies,” says Morgan.  “And through all of this, I solidified my commitment to journalism.”

We hope Hannah's article below - and her two other pieces on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can be read HERE - inspires you and moves you to encourage young people in your life who are writing for social justice to submit their work to the 2014 Student Stowe Prize. Submissions are due by this Friday, January 10. For more information, visit the Student Stowe Prize page on our website or email StudentStowePrize@stowecenter.org.

"Transforming Lives at N Street Village" - Hannah Morgan

It is difficult to explain N Street Village in a few words. But a poster on the wall of this haven for Washington’s homeless women gives it a try.

“WE are N Street Village. WE are a community of respect, recovery and hope. We create a safe and welcoming place with our words and actions. We expect kindness and we value honesty and diversity.”
On a rainy Thursday morning, the N Street Village women’s center was filled with women cutting out cards, reading Cosmopolitan magazine, visiting the Wellness Center and conversing over hot tea, waiting for a 10 o’clock aerobics class and health appointments upstairs.

Outside, women mill in a gated courtyard outside of the center; resting in wheelchairs, on benches, chatting, smoking, thinking and sometimes nodding off.

The women come from all walks of life, from Georgia, New York City, Haiti and NE D.C. All are welcome and few, if any, questions are asked.

Mere blocks from a Whole Foods, upscale DC eateries and galleries, N Street Village is tucked into a residential neighborhood, N Street opened in 1972 across from Luther Place Memorial Church, between Vermont Avenue and 14th Street NW.

The organization offers endless services, from supportive housing to cups of coffee for nearly 900 women annually, said Tracy Cecil, the Director of Special Projects. According to the 2010 annual count of D.C.’s homeless population, N Street Village served roughly 46 percent of the adult homeless women in the District last year.

Women who stay in emergency shelters or on the street lack places to spend their days and N Street’s Bethany Women’s Center provides a safe haven to dozens dozens seven days a week.

Women from shelters all over the city are dropped off every morning to N Street and can enroll in classes, eat a hot meal, take a shower, chose new clothes from the clothes closet or and just hang out in a safe atmosphere; all that is asked of them is that they do a chore.

Softspoken Renee Moore, a former resident of Luther Place, a transitional housing program run through N Street Village, volunteers at the clothes closet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She keeps a meticulous record of every item of clothing that comes in and out of the closet. She describes her involvement and experience with Bethany’s and how it changed her life:
“I came here, I was scared, confused. I came here with an alcohol addiction and this October, I’ll be four years clean,” she said. While she was living at Luther Place, she earned a CPR license, got dental work taken care of, and took control of her life with the help of a supportive community of women. She volunteers at the clothes closet as a way of giving back to the community that helped heal her.

Upstairs from Bethany’s is the N Street Village Wellness Center- affiliated with Unity Healthcare- is staffed by a licensed nurse. The center offers primary care, mental health education, psychotherapy, group therapy, crisis information and psychiatric referral services, as well as classes on stress reduction, yoga and relaxation and relapse prevention.

Ilana Krakowski works as the program assistant to the wellness center, and on Thursdays at 10 am, leads a movement and dance class. A group of about ten women stretch to a David Grey song, hugging themselves and rolling their necks in circles. Krakowski shows the women, dressed in tennis shoes, barefoot, jeans, dresses and heels a few simple moves, and they quickly pick up an upbeat dance routine to Lady Gaga’s, “Born This Way.” Members of the kitchen staff and women waiting in the health clinic wander into the room at the sound of laughter and music and join in. During a break, a woman declares, “I haven’t danced in a long time.”

The building is open every single day of the year, but closes at 4 pm; even during weather emergencies. However, N Street Village helps find women beds in shelters during emergencies. Kate Akalonu, Communications and Community Engagement Associate, remembers trying to place women into shelters last year during the, “Snowpocalypse,” and during Hurricane Irene.

“N Street Village also provides temporary housing for 94 women in four different programs,” Cecil said, “Thirty one women live at Luther Place, located across the street from N Street Village.” The shelter provides dorm living for women involved with the case management program. The program was used by 447 women in 2010, and each received individual case managers who assisted with the self-sufficiency goals of the women, according to the 2010 annual report. These goals ranged from mental, spiritual and physical health recovery to drug treatment and relapse prevention.

Robin Offutt, a Luther Place 2011 graduate, now lives in her own home in Northeast. She she used all the help N Street had to offer to get her life back.

“I was into everything,” she said.

At N Street, “you do have a sense that you are worth something,” said Barbra Parker, a team leader for the Wellness Center receptionists and renowned crochet teacher at the center. “To lose everything and to come here and to realize you can do something positive, in the meantime, [you] don’t have to wallow in self-pity.”

Twenty one beds are available on N Street for women with mental illnesses and chronic homelessness, an additional 21 rented beds for women in recovery programs looking for full time work and 21 rented beds within a therapeutic community for women with co-occurring mental health/addiction histories, said Cecil.

“Every one of us here brings something different to the community. This place is really a wellness center, I get to teach other people, it’s fantastic. I’m waiting for housing, but in the meantime, I can do this,” Parker said.

Monday, January 6, 2014

“Young Witnesses to Bullying Must Be Part of Solution”

Tess Domb-Sadof, a former student at Amherst Regional High School, was the 2012 Student Stowe Prize High School Winner. Her winning entry, “Young Witnesses to Bullying Must Be Part of Solution,” was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The editorial argues that bullying is not just between bully and victim, and that those who witness bullying make a choice to ignore it or intervene. “I am committed to using dialogue to build a community where individuals take responsibility to acknowledge, address and respond to injustice,” said Tess. In addition to her writing, she formed the first-ever School Climate Group at her high school to fight bullying and create a safe environment for all.

We hope Tess' editorial below inspires you and moves you to encourage young people in your life who are writing for social justice to submit their work to the 2014 Student Stowe Prize. Submissions are due by this Friday, January 10. For more information, visit the Student Stowe Prize page on our website or email StudentStowePrize@stowecenter.org.

“Young Witnesses to Bullying Must Be Part of Solution” - Tess Domb-Sadof

AMHERST — It only seems natural for students, the direct participants in bullying episodes, to be actively involved in the creation of anti-bullying policies, activities, and programs.

Yet, as schools rushed to meet the state-mandated Dec. 31 deadline to develop anti-bullying policies, there was no requirement to use student-initiated and student focused activities to respond to bullying and to support witnesses to intervene.

This have may resulted in policies failing to reflect students’ thoughts, perspectives, and needs.

During my experience surveying elementary school students and interviewing high school students for "Student News," I learned that giving students the chance to share their experiences and ideas can educate and motivate them to organize around anti-bullying efforts. Students can rise to the challenge.

They contribute honest, thoughtful insights and offer poignant experiences that schools and school officials can learn from and apply in programs.

While surveys and interviews give students an opportunity to share their input, schools need to take the lead and support programs that value student participation.

Schools can form anti-bullying student task forces around student schedules. They can establish programs that incorporate and amplify students’ meaningful and often incredible ideas about bullying. And, student task forces need to be more than just a rubber stamp for school administrators. Student engagement shouldn’t be just a box to check off.

In my view, school administrators need to focus on using students’ ideas as the basis for their projects. A great example of this was evident in the assembly students led at Hampshire Regional High School late last year.

By supporting a student-led assembly in which all students were welcome to participate in an open-mic discussion about bullying, the school succeeded in demonstrating respect for students’ experiences and fostering an environment based in action rather than apathy.

When people talk about bullying, they often forget about the role of the witness as an active intervener. 

After all, bullying has long been defined as an act that happens between two individuals, the bully and the victim. We establish punishments and consequences for the bullies and create support systems for the targets.

However, bullying usually also includes witnesses or bystanders who often don’t know how to respond. In an effort to educate students on how to respond to bullying, elementary, middle, and high schools need to emphasize the role of the witness. As I see it, witnesses hold great influence in the real and cyber worlds.

By responding or ignoring bullying, witnesses’ actions show either acceptance of the bullying or rejection of it. They hold the power in schools becoming caring and responsive communities. Schools should lead the way in creating programs that provide witnesses with the tools and skills to effectively and successfully respond to bullying.

Some of these programs can be created by the school, and others, like MTV’s "A Thin Line" program, can be supported and publicized in the school.

In addition to focusing on the consequences, legal issues, teacher training and disciplinary responses to bullying in our schools, schools should welcome and use student input to create anti-bullying policies and programs that reflect students’ ideas, suggestions, and experiences about bullying prevention.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"On the 11th day of Christmas..."

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut in half and can be virtually eliminated by 2030, but only if we act with urgency now.

What of the above actions are you already taking? Which ways will you adopt to become a better activist? 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Warm your heart on this snowy day with the inspiration of youth #writingforsocialjustice

Today we share the writing of Rachel Stonecipher of Southern Methodist University, finalist in the 2012 Student Stowe Prize. Rachel's entry, "Shattered by Security: The Impact of Secure Communities on Families" was published on the blog Access Denied: A Conversation on Unauthorized Im/migration and Health in 2011. We hope her writing inspires you and moves you to encourage young people in your life who are writing for social justice to submit their work to the 2014 Student Stowe Prize. Submissions are due by January 10. For more information, visit the Student Stowe Prize page on our website or email StudentStowePrize@stowecenter.org.

Shattered by Security: The Impact of Secure Communities on Families – Rachel Stonecipher

Although ICE’s Secure Communities initiative claims to prioritize “the removal of criminal aliens, those who pose a threat to public safety, and repeat immigration violators,” recent national reports by PBS Frontline and the Applied Research Center (ARC) indicate that most immigrants taken into ICE custody have no serious criminal history—and, moreover, that a growing number are parents with dependent children.

According to a recent Frontline special entitled “Lost In Detention,” not only are undocumented immigrants taken into ICE custody increasingly likely to be parents, often of U.S. citizen children, but they also have lived in the United States, on average, for more than 11 years. Often such cases begin with a routine traffic violation and a missing driver’s license, followed by a fingerprint check against both FBI and Department of Homeland Security national databases.

Other cases begin with domestic violence complaints. According to ARC’s recent report “Shattered Families,” local police commonly apprehend not only perpetrators but also victims of domestic violence who happen to be undocumented. Both are fingerprinted and detained by ICE, and if children are involved, they are placed in foster care. Both Frontline and ARC suggest that Secure Communities combined with longstanding 287(g) agreements, which grant local police authorization and resources to enforce immigration law, have led to the upswing in detention of non-criminals – including victims of domestic violence. Another contributing factor is the rapid growth of for-profit detention centers, whose corporate owners have lobbied for legislation increasing immigration detention.

ARC reports that at least 5,100 children across 22 states are currently in foster care because their parents have been either detained or deported. In counties with 287(g) agreements, children in foster care are roughly 29 percent more likely than foster children in other counties to have a detained or deported parent. If this trend continues, ARC estimates that 15,000 more children will face similar cases over the next five years. The problem starts with aggressive immigration enforcement, but indefinite detention and a lack of clear Child Protective Services (CPS) policies regarding deported parents disrupt and often prevent reunification.

In a report titled “Disappearing Parents,” University of Arizona professor Nina Rabin outlines the scope, magnitude, and implications of this problem. First, ICE officials can often choose whether or not to initiate detention or deportation proceedings, but they rarely exercise their discretionary power to avoid separating children and parents. Once detained, parents have little control over the placement of their children, especially when they hope for placement with undocumented relatives. Given parents’ inability to communicate with CPS, they cannot adhere to its reunification plans – a problem that becomes exacerbated when they are moved to faraway detention facilities. In the absence of established protocols, the decision about whether parents may maintain contact with their children is in CPS agents’ hands. According to Rabin, criminalization actually encourages CPS personnel to “write off” immigrants in detention and assume that families will not be reunified.

Neither fighting nor accepting one’s deportation is likely to shorten the reunification process. If parents choose to fight, then the length of immigration proceedings can easily exceed the deadlines set by CPS unification plans. If parents resign themselves to deportation, CPS may declare that their children will be better off in the U.S. and refuse to send them abroad. In other cases, CPS may require that parents find a job, or complete parenting classes in their home country within a set timeline, then petition to terminate parental rights if the deadline is not met.

Although ICE frames family separation as “collateral damage” of its efforts to deport people who pose a “true public safety or national security threat,” it is no rare occurrence. In fact, most deportations now result in such collateral damage. According to ICE deputy director Kumar Kibble, interviewed by Frontline, fewer than half of the agency’s record 400,000 deportations in fiscal year 2010 involved “criminal removals” – even under ICE’s broad definition of “criminal,” which includes repeat border crossers. To take one state as an example, Jerry Stermer, senior advisor to Illinois governor Pat Quinn, told Frontline that fewer than 20 percent of deportees from that state had been convicted of a serious crime.

Such statistics have not deterred ICE officials, who have normalized non-criminal removal by setting 2010’s record 400,000 deportations as the new standard. According to former ICE field office director Michael Rozos on Frontline, the agency’s budget rests on an agreement with Congress to maintain this 2010 “achievement”; any fewer would result in future budget cuts. ICE met its goal in the 2011 fiscal year through a slight increase in “criminal” deportations, but the proportion of deportees with felony convictions was still low: only about 40 percent. To meet its annual target, Rozos reports that ICE encourages agents to arrest every undocumented person within reach, including “collateral apprehensions,” to “get the numbers moved up.” Indeed, in a February 2010 internal memo, the agency directed its personnel to heighten – rather than discourage – non-criminal deportations. Although both ICE and President Obama have taken note of the ARC report and expressed a commitment to family unification, non-criminal arrests are driven by a numbers game with high stakes for families and children.

Secure Communities may have provided ICE with an effective tool for casting a wide net and maximizing its deportation figures, but the program has strayed far from its original objective – to target the “worst of the worst – and instead become an indiscriminate mechanism for putting a record number of parents, many of them otherwise upstanding long-term residents, on a path to deportation. As the reports reviewed here clearly demonstrate, ICE’s repurposing of a reasonable immigration strategy has severe consequences; it is tearing families apart, thereby routing parents through a system with numerous health risks and jeopardizing their children’s mental health and well-being. No matter how much CPS protocols may improve, it appears that ICE practices will continue to harm families as long as the language of “security” is regularly perverted to justify the deportation of non-criminals.

Rachel Stonecipher is an honors student at Southern Methodist University, where she is also a member of the Hyer Society. A double-major in anthropology and cinema-television, she spent the summer of 2011 conducting ethnographic research on the social structure of im/migrant rights activism in Tucson, Arizona, with support from a Richter Fellowship.