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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair"

Graduation from high school or college is a turning point in the lives of many. Whether going into the work force, entering the armed forces, or pursuing higher education, graduation symbolizes a new beginning. So what message should we share with graduates of the class of 2014 as they start their new journeys? At a time when the United States economy is struggling, college is becoming increasingly expensive, the military continues to fight overseas, and jobs can be hard to find, how do you motivate graduates?

Fran Thompson, Principal of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, CT, chose to inspire with a message of taking action. He challenged graduating seniors to combat apathy, cynicism and despair, particularly in light of the tragedy at the school earlier this spring, and recognize that each of us can make a difference. Below is an excerpt from his speech which we hope will inspire you and today's graduates to take action.

We all know that this spring Jonathan Law experienced a tragedy on an unimaginable scale. The sense of loss and disbelief coupled with the feeling of violation to our school is still very palpable. 
But it has been due to the collective strength of this class, the leaders and tone setters of our school, that from this tragedy we have found some sense to the senselessness. This class posed the question, "What would Maren want us to do? How would she want us to act?" 
And from these questions began a campaign of kindness, compassion and a rally cry to pay it forward; to help others just because it’s the right thing to do.
And so while preaching advice is not my thing, here are a few thoughts (adapted from Bradley Whitford), for you to consider...Take action. Every story you've ever connected with, every leader you've ever admired, every puny little thing that you've ever accomplished is the result of taking action. You have a choice. You can either be a passive victim of circumstance or you can be the active hero of your own life. Action is the antidote to apathy and cynicism and despair. You will inevitably make mistakes. Learn what you can and move on. At the end of your days, you will be judged by your gallop, not by your stumble.

We challenge you, our followers, as change agents yourselves, to help spread this call to take action. Who do you know that might benefit from Principal Thompson's empowering speech?

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