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, August 29, 2014

@ONECampaign's "Halfway There" video on #extremepoverty

Yesterday we brought you a post on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s thoughts on poverty in America and asked what his message means today. ONE, an international campaigning and advocacy organization of nearly 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, just released "Halfway There," a video clip on poverty in America which references Dr. King. In the video, members of ONE pose questions such as:
What if Dr. King walked away from the podium halfway through “I Have a Dream”?
What if Malala decided not to go back to school?
What if Nelson Mandela said “I’m done” when he was released from prison?
The video ends by announcing that extreme poverty has been cut in half...but that there is still work to be done.

Do you think extreme poverty can be eliminated in America? The description of this video states that poverty can be eliminate by 2030 - what must be done to achieve that goal?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#MartinLutherKingJr's thoughts on #poverty in America

51 years ago today, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his landmark I Have A Dream speech at the March on Washington. One of the nation's most iconic and revered civil rights leaders, many do not know that Dr. King he also spoke out against poverty. In 1967, he published Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, a book which advocates for a universal basic income to elevate Americans to the middle class. Jordan Weissmann's Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Solution to Poverty, published in The Atlantic, reveals the little known story of King's commitment to eliminating poverty. The video clip below feature's King's own words, in his voice, on poverty.

On this 51st anniversary of the March on Washington, what is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy today? What work still needs to be done? How can his approach to poverty issues be used to conquer the persistence of these injustices?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New @CDCgov definition draws attention to issue of #bullying in schools

As students prepare to begin another academic year, attention will again be paid to the issue of bullying in schools. The Center for Disease Control issued a new definition on bullying. The CDC defines bullying as any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. With this new definition, the CDC hopes to elicit community conversations and actions to combat bullying.

What do you think of this definition? Will the attention the CDC is paying to the issue of bullying help spark a larger conversation? What do you think needs to be done to reduce bullying?  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Today marks the 45th annual Women’s Equality Day, a day to commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and to bring attention to the continued fight for full gender equality. The day began in 1971 under the direction of Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY).

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and  
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and 
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and 
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities, 
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place. 

A Stowe House visitor reflects on Stowe and the rights of women

How will you celebrate Women’s Equality Day? In what ways was Harriet Beecher Stowe a pioneer in women’s rights? In what ways can we use Women’s Equality Day to bring light to not just gender inequality but racial, economic, and global inequalities?

Monday, August 25, 2014

#Takingaction after the death of #MichaelBrown

In the wake of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager killed by a white police officer, issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and the militarization of law enforcement have been thrust into national conversation. Ferguson, MO, the home of Michael Brown, has served as the backdrop to these discussions as residents exercise their right to protest and organize, often clashing with police in the process. While certainly a tragedy on an individual and personal level, the death of Brown also highlights the larger systemic forces that segregate young men of color. These forces are symptomatic of years of racism, a clouded history of slavery and cycles of poverty which we now must solve. Yet solutions to larger institutional issues are hard to come by as they demand all individuals, including those of dominant races and classes, to recognize inequalities and demand the political will necessary to confront them. 

Janee Woods of Quartz, published a list of “12 things white people can do now because Ferguson” to motivate individuals to take action on issues of racism and discrimination. 
Several of the actions include to:
  • Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the racialized history of America.
  • Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities.
  • Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison industrial complex.
  • Be proactive in your own community.

What else would you add to this list? In the wake of the death of Michael Brown, how can we make our communities more inclusive? What will you do to foster discussion and action around issues of racism and profiling?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A call for a united front on #mentalhealth services

In the weeks after the sudden death of comedian and actor Robin Williams, the topic mental health services has become an important issue in the news. The tweet and featured article below call for coverage of mental health services in universal health services.

What do you think? Do you think this is a good idea? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

From #dontshoot to #togetherwecanchange

Today's post comes to you from June Cara Christian, a teaching and learning specialist with Teaching Tolerance which is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The post, #dontshoot, was featured on the Teaching Tolerance Blog last week and is in response to the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Feeds for the two referenced hashtags, #dontshoot and #togetherwecanchange, are embedded below.

What are your reactions to the post, #dontshoot and #togetherwecanchange? How is social media impacting the conversation around the death of Michael Brown? We encourage you to share your responses in the comments section below.


Submitted by June Cara Christian on August 15, 2014
Blogs and Articles: Race and Ethnicity Teaching Prejudice Reduction Activism

#dontshoot is one of several haunting hashtags that appeared after the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old student fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. The hashtag often appears linked to posted and tweeted photographs of African Americans with their arms held up to signal that they are unarmed. The number of these photos circulating has increased steadily in the days since Brown’s death, as the details of the shooting slowly emerge and a community rife with grief and frustration protests the tragic loss of a young person.

Michael Brown could have been my student. Some years ago, I taught at Normandy Middle School in the school district from which “Big Mike” graduated. Students in the Normandy School District confront a host of issues and concerns that directly impact student achievement, including woefully inadequate resources and high rates of poverty and crime in their neighborhoods and municipalities. Recently, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education dismantled the school district due to inadequate yearly progress, creating in its wake the Normandy Schools Collective.

Despite seemingly insurmountable circumstances, many of my colleagues continue to provide a quality education to their students. I am proud to have taught in Normandy School District and proud of the district’s students and of my colleagues.

This should have been a time of celebration for Brown, a young man who overcame the obstacles inherent in this flawed educational system. Despite being a credit short when he walked in May, he received his high school diploma on August 1 and was scheduled to enroll at Vatterott College on August 11. Instead, he lay dead in the middle of a city street, shot down between an auspicious end and a bright beginning.

Reflecting upon the significance of another African-American man dead after an altercation with law enforcement (let us not forget Oscar Grant, Wendell Allen and Eric Garner, killed only weeks before), I am left wondering what we are teaching our students—not only our students in predominantly African-American schools, but all students across the United States. Racism does double duty. It harms us all in very real ways.

Jennings School District was forced to push back the first day of school as a precautionary measure due to community protests and riots after Brown’s death. Ferguson-Florissant School District, where protesting continues, has postponed the first day of school. The students in these districts are hearing the message that we handle race, racism and racial tensions in the United States by avoiding them. Brown’s death and the outpouring of protest it ignited is symbolic of racial tensions that have festered for too long. Instead of internalizing the events in Ferguson as racial protocol in our nation, students should be taught to be the voices of change and the enactors of justice.

It is incumbent upon all of us—in all communities, in all schools, and regardless of racial demographics—to teach students compassion for their peers. This includes the peers they sit beside and their peers in Normandy, Ferguson, Jennings and beyond. This isn’t just a learning lesson for African-American students; it is a learning lesson for all students.

Every student matters.

Students across the country are beginning a new school year. Some will mature into law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, service industry workers and civil employees. Educators have a unique opportunity to begin bridging the social chasms that divide us by fostering honest dialogue with these future adults. Schools can become the places where students learn to interrogate racial biases—and any biases—to restore our collective humanity.

One resource that supports an open and honest dialogue is Teaching Tolerance’s Anti-bias Framework (ABF). The ABF offers K-12 standards that empower students to stand up against prejudice and injustice, to express empathy and compassion and to take action for a better world.

Healing can begin in our schools. Perhaps next year, retuning students will be using the hashtag:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sexual harassment towards women in #STEM fields

Recent media campaigns and policy initiatives have focused on addressing the underrepresentation of women (as well as racial and ethnic minorities) in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. While women are entering STEM disciplines in increasingly large numbers, many leave the field before earning a terminal degree.

A new study published by PLOS One may provides some reason as to why women choose to leave STEM disciplines. The study, conducted by four female researchers, surveyed 666 scientists (516 women and 150) men via an online questionnaire on the scope of sexual assault and harassment in research work. The results were startling. The researchers found that 64% of subjects experienced sexual harassment during field research and 20% experienced sexual assault. Women were more likely to report harassment from a supervisor, and men from a peer.

With this knowledge, how can we make STEM fields safer and more inviting to women? How can we make workplaces, whether STEM or otherwise, more open and inclusive for all individuals? What changes in policies or culture need to be enacted?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Native Americans in support of the #Redskins called "new #UncleToms"

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. This is not the first time the trademark has been in question or canceled for the ever-controversial football team, but does not mean the team has to stop using the trademarks. It will make it more difficult for the team to sue any individual or company using the Redskins name or logo.

The controversy over the Washington Redskins name and logo is decades old, but the debate has only become more heated. A few times, Native Americans in support of the Redskins’ name and associated images have been called "new Uncle Toms.”

The Stowe Center addresses the transformation of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character “Uncle Tom” from a strong, pious, Christian man into the often-used racial slur today. Those called an “Uncle Tom” are seen as people betraying their race by taking on the characteristics or performing the actions seemingly typical of another race. Among those that have been called an “Uncle Tom” in recent years are President Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.

CBS Sports columnist Mike Freeman argues, “Instead of a stereotypical Indian wearing war paint, the mascot can be a Sambo-like dude smacking his lips on some watermelon. What? That offends you? Seems ridiculous? The Redskins caricature is just as stereotypical and ugly.”

Bob Burns said the following: “Let me be clear: The racial slur ‘redskins’ is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist. In the memory of our Blackfeet relatives, it’s time to change the name.”

What do you think of the Washington team’s name? What do you think the ramifications of changing the name would be? The Washington Redskins are not the only team that uses Native American slurs or imagery on their logos. Why do you think the appropriation of Native American culture is still acceptable? What can we do as a society to enact more inclusive and respectful branding?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What do #HarrietBeecherStowe and #RobinWilliams have in common?

As the world mourns the tragic loss of comedian, actor and entertainer Robin Williams, fans are reflecting on his most memorable movies, skits and even quotes. We found the quote below  from Dead Poets Society (1989) to be especially pertinent:

So what do a 19th century female author and a 20th/21st century male comedian have in common? Both Stowe and Williams believed in the power we have to change the world; the ability ideas and words have to make an impact. They were also both artists who used their art - whether writing and painting (Stowe) or acting and comedy (Williams) - as an avenue for change.

How will you honor the lives and legacies of Robin Williams and Harriet Beecher Stowe? How will you use your words and ideas to change the world?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lucy Liu's film #Meena continues the #childtrafficking conversation

Lucy Liu, UNICEF Ambassador and documentarian has produced multiple films about child sex trafficking. The latest, Meena, is about a young girl who was kidnapped and sold by her uncle when she was only eight years old. Meena Hasina’s story was detailed in Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Meena, when she escaped from the brothel her uncle sold her to, sought the help of Apne Aap, a nonprofit self-empowerment group. Just before Meena debuted, Liu wrote:
“The expression ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is so true, particularly when it comes to violence against children. It takes an entire international community to create lasting change. Don’t get me wrong, there is real change happening in the world on the part of governments, individuals and non-governmental organizations, but we need to do more.”
Though many organizations provide services for those who had been trafficked, Liu suggests more action needs to be taken to prevent child trafficking. Ensuring children are in safe, nurturing schools for longer makes it less likely they will be susceptible to exploitation. Liu concludes: “None of this is inevitable. It is preventable. Period.” 

What do you think can be done to prevent trafficking? What are the roots of the “wicked problem” of child sex trafficking? Are awareness publications having the impact filmmakers like Lucy Liu hope they will? Who should be responsible for making these changes? Weigh in on this complicated issue in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A 12-year-old shows concern for #economicequality in new #StoweHouse experience

As you've read in some earlier posts, the Stowe Center is undergoing the process of reinterpretation, the exciting re-imagining of the visitor experience in the Stowe House. While testing some ideas and experiences, we asked a group of teenagers to consider: "What kind of change would you like to make in the world?" One 12-year-old girl from Hartford said:

The new Stowe House experience will share the inspiring story of Harriet Beecher Stowe and connect the issues for which she advocated to contemporary injustices. We will ask visitors to consider their role in creating change in the world and what issues are important to them. As is evidenced above, people of all ages (even teenagers!) are eager to share what injustices are important to them and how they would like to make change. What contemporary issues are important to you?

In a recent blog post, our interpretive consultant Linda Norris concluded that "Seeing IS Believing: What Prototyping Can Do," and shared many of the successes of our reinterpretation thus far. Don't miss the chance to weigh in on the future of the Stowe House experience! Stop by for a tour of the House and share your reactions, or contact ideas@stowecenter.org with questions or suggestions. We're excited to engage YOU in the experience and find out how Stowe's story inspires you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

#HarrietBeecherStowe is still inspiring the fight again #slavery

Today's message from Upworthy as shared by Walk Free, a global movement fighting to end modern-day slavery.

How does Stowe inspire you today?

Friday, August 8, 2014

"We Should All be Feminists"

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian writer of bestsellers like Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, has recently released an e-book entitled We Should All be Feminists. The book is based on her viral TEDx talk (Technology, Education, Design) of the same name. In the text, Adichie offers a definition for feminism in the 21st century, one that is predicated on awareness and inclusion for all.

In July, we facilitated a book talk on Americanah in which conversations included Adichie’s portrayal of gender and feminism in the text.

What do you think it means to be a feminist today? Why are some people reluctant to identify as feminists? What are ways in which the feminist movement of the past has failed to include all individuals? Do you identify as a feminist? Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


The Always #LikeAGirl campaign asked the following questions in a recent commercial:

1) What does it mean to do something ‘like a girl’?

2) When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult?

Two groups of people were asked to do different things “like a girl”, including run, fight, and throw. The first group included a few women, a man, and a boy. All of them, when asked to perform those actions, flailed around and spouted words like, “my hair, Oh God!” The second group was composed only of young girls. Unlike the first group, the second ran in place as hard as possible, and threw imaginary balls and imaginary punches with gusto. One of these young girls said running like a girl means running as fast as you can. Why did these two groups have such different reactions to the same questions?

Age, primarily. The ladies in the first group were older and had already been through puberty. Self-esteem among children, particularly girls, when they reach puberty plummets. Saying anything is being done #LikeAGirl, “really puts [girls] down, because during that time they’re already trying to figure themselves out,” as one of the young women from the first group said. She continued, “Well, what does that mean? Cause they think they’re a strong person. It’s kind of like telling them that they’re weak, and they’re not as good as them.”

When asked if the women in the first group wanted to re-try running, fighting, and throwing, they all took a page from the second group’s book and ran, fought, and threw as hard as they could. One of them asked, “why can’t ‘run like a girl’ also mean win the race?”

We have talked about body image in our Rethinking Beauty: Women, Power & Influence Salon and on this blog in our recent post onm aerie’s Real campaign. The campaign vows not to retouch any of the images in their advertisements. Similar initiatives are popping up from companies across the country, with Dove having been one of the first. Do you think companies like Always and aerie are promoting positive body image? Have you heard of doing something “like a boy,” or do you know of similar campaigns aimed at boys? Is positive body image the only issue being addressed in these advertisements?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Returning from Prison and Re-integrating into Society

With nearly 1,200 individuals released from prison everyday, the issue of returning home and readjusting to society is critical in policy discussions of justice reform. On Tuesday, August 5th, John Dankosky of WNPR’s Where We Live premiered the segment “Leaving Prison and Re-entering Society,” tackling this very issue of returning from incarceration. The conversation included Laura Sullivan, an NPR investigative reporter behind the recent series “Life After ‘Life’: Aging Inmates Struggle for Redemption,” Stephen Lanza, the Executive & Clinical Director of Family ReEntry, Inc., Mike Lawlor of Connecticut’s Criminal Justice Policy & Planning Division, John Santa of the Malta Justice Imperative, and Jeff Brenneman and Greg Wells, two individuals recently released from prison. You can listen to the segment HERE.

The program focused on the challenges individuals face when returning home from prison and re-entering what is often a changed society. In July, we facilitated Coming Home After Prison: A New Reality, a Salon on this same topic featuring guests Rev. Jeff Grant and LaResse Harvey. Both individuals spoke on their experiences reintegrating into their communities after periods of incarceration. Conversations at the Salon focused on concepts of prison conditions, the parole system, and over-incarceration.

What is our role as community members to ensure individuals returning from incarceration are given the resources to properly reenter society? What are the ramifications if we do not provide these resources? What are ways we can take action on prison conditions and over-incarceration? Let us know what you think! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The workplace penalties of advocating for #diversity

According to a new research study conducted by the University of Colorado (below), women and minorities who promote diversity in hiring often receive lower employment reviews as compared to white men who are lauded for the same practices.

The study was authored by David Hekman, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business, Maw Der Foo, an associate professor of management and entrepreneurship, and Wei Yang, a CU graduate student. The three researchers conducted two separate tests to determine the impact of valuing diversity on performance ratings. First, the researchers collected information from 362 business executives involved in the same leadership training seminar. The data included assessments of the executives’ attitudes towards diverse hiring and ratings of the executives by their supervisors. Women and nonwhites who placed a high value on diversity were seen as selfish or incompetent.

In the second test, actors were used to portray human resource managers advocating for certain candidates in front of a test audience. Audience members penalized the women and nonwhite managers for advocating for diversity, while the white men were not criticized.

The researchers hypothesized that the penalties women and nonwhites face when attempting to foster diversity contribute to the lack of pay equity among women and minorities and lack of upper-management positions held by women and nonwhites.

What do you think? How can we, as employers or employees, work to mitigate the findings of this report? What are the benefits of having a diverse workplace? What are the biggest challenges in reaching diversity and equity in the corporate or public sphere?

Monday, August 4, 2014

#Slavery and #humantrafficking in Nigeria, Niger and around the world

“To be honest, because I had bought them, I strongly felt that they were slaves that I had paid for and that it was their duty to obey my orders under all circumstances. They are always visible because they are always busy, while my legal wives are housed at the back of my compound and are not accessible to just anyone, as our religion prescribes. No one is surprised by this, and everyone was happy with their situation.”
- Present-day slave owner interviewed by Timidria

Anti-Slavery International was founded 175 years ago
As the world awaits the hopeful release of hundreds of Nigerian school girls captured by Boko Haram, the discussion around modern-day slavery continues. In a recent Anti-Slavery International and Association Timidria report titled “WAHAYA: Domestic and sexual slavery in Niger,” Galy Kadir Abdelkader and Moussa Zangaou outline slavery and human rights, the "wahaya pratice," and 10 personal stories of modern-day slavery. The report defines wahaya as “girls and women bought and exploited as property by many dignitaries (mostly religious leaders or wealthy men who bear the title ‘Elhadji’). The women are used for free labour and for the sexual gratification of their masters, who assault them at will when they are not with their legitimate wives.” The quotation at the top of this post is from a slave owner interviewed by Timidria for this report, and hearkens back to the pro-slavery attitudes Harriet Beecher Stowe encountered during her time and in response to her publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

In “Two hundred girls for sale, millions already sold,” a blog post for OECD Insights, Patrick Love sheds light on the WAHAYA report and highlights several staggering statistics. He also points readers to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, a piece of United Nations legislation ratified in 2000. The Protocol seeks to:

(a) To prevent and combat trafficking in persons, paying particular attention to women and children;
(b) To protect and assist the victims of such trafficking, with full respect for their human rights; and
(c) To promote cooperation among States Parties in order to meet those objectives.

It goes on to make recommendations to States Parties on how to combat trafficking, and offers means of taking action.

In your opinion, do resolutions or similar protocols effect action/change on trafficking efforts in national or state governments? Which of the courses of action can be implemented where you live? Which can you write to your legislators about? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.