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, September 18, 2014

Amnesty International #MyBodyMyRights Campaign

Amnesty International has launched "My Body, My Rights," a global campaign predicated on ensuring that everyone has access to fundamental sexual and reproductive rights. The agency to make conscious choices regarding one's body, sexuality, and reproductive life are critical components of basic human rights.

Amnesty International maintains that everyone has the right too:
-Make decisions about our own health, body, sexual life, and identity without fear of coercion or criminalization
-Seek and receive information about sexuality and reproduction and access related health services and contraception
-Decide whether and when to have children, and how many to have
-Choose your intimate partner and whether and when to marry
-Decide what type of family to create
-Access family planning; contraception; safe and accessible post-abortion care; access to abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault or incest, and pregnancy that poses a risk to the life or to physical or mental health; and, where legal, access to safe abortion services
-Live free from discrimination, coercion and violence, including rape and other sexual violence,  female genital mutilation, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization and forced    marriage.

What do you think of the campaign? What types of policy initiatives can be enacted to improve access to reproductive and sexual rights? In what ways can members of the developed world help ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of those in developing nations?  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Haunting Human Trafficking PSA Hopes to Motivate Action

Filmmaker Jonathan Quigg recently released a short, one-minute Public Service Announcement that details the realities of victims of human trafficking. Poetic and engaging, the video reveals the often invisible existence of victims of trafficking and the ways in which this institution operates in everyday communities around the globe.

Quigg hopes the PSA will spark dialogue and awareness on the issue of modern day slavery and human trafficking. From an interveiw with The Huffington Post Quigg writes, "The main message of this video is quite simply that this is an issue that actually happens...It might not be obvious, but it truly is happening both internationally and within the cities that we live."

What do you think of the PSA? Is it a way to motivate action around the issue of human trafficking? After viewing this video, what are appropriate next steps? Is spreading awareness on the issue of modern day slavery enough to create lasting change?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

World Affairs Council and Stowe Center Host Workshop on Human Trafficking

This afternoon, the World Affairs Council of CT in conjunction with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, held a screening of Not My Life followed by a workshop of ways to address the issue of human trafficking in classrooms and communities. Not My Life, directed by Robert Bilheimer and narrated by Glenn Close, examines the brutal practices of modern slavery and the ways in which human trafficking exists on a global scale. The workshop, lead by social studies teacher Wendy Nelson-Kauffman of the Metropolitan Learning Center and representatives from Love146, an organization combating child trafficking, guided participants through techniques and best practices to approach the often challenging and intense nature of human trafficking.

The workshop and film nearly filled to capacity, with students, community members, and local social activists in attendance.

This event is part of a larger initiative within the national World Affairs Councils of America to bring more awareness and knowledge to the issue of human trafficking.

What do you know about human trafficking?  Have you seen Not My Life? What are ways you will spread the word on the issue of human trafficking?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

#Ferguson kids call out racism in viral video

A video featuring young residents of Ferguson, MO discussing racism and its current implications, has gone viral. The short video is produced by a socially-conscious t-shirt company and includes young people, aged 6 to 13, delivering statements towards white America on the insidious reality of contemporary racism and the effects of the killing of Michael Brown. Funny and provocative, the video includes lines like “Just because BeyoncĂ© is on your playlist and you voted for Obama doesn’t mean that our generation has seen the end of racist drama.”   Watch below:

What do you think of the video? Do you think it is an honest attempt to spark dialogue about race relations in America? Or just an attempt to sell t-shirts? What do you think of the pairing of activism and commercialism? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Retail Brand Hornbach Creates Ad for Acceptance

German retail brand Hornbach, has released a new advertisement with a moral message. The ad details the daily life of a teenage girl and the funny and surprising lengths her father goes to to make her feel accepted. Watch below! 

What do you think of corporate brands integrating positive social messages in their advertising? Does it work? Or is it just another avenue to gain customers and revenue? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Combating Racial #Biases

In the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, much attention has been paid to the way race and racism operate in police forces, communities, and the media.  In "I am Racist, And So Are You," writer Rachel Shadoan argues that implicit racial biases are so pervasive that it is seemingly impossible to not hold some racial prejudices. Implicit biases refer to stereotypical judgments and pretenses that operate on an often subconscious level and are learned through family, peers, or the media. While often subtle, these biases reinforce an unequal racial hierarchy that privileges some individuals, and discriminates against others.  

Protests in Ferguson, MO after the killing of Michael Brown 

In an earlier blog post we wrote about a new project from MTV that aims to combat everyday biases in race, gender, and sexuality.

What do you think? Does everyone hold some biases? Is everyone racist? Can a member of a privileged identity group, whether in race, gender, or sexuality, not be biased? How? What are ways we can combat bias in schools, communities, and in our police forces? Let us know in the comments!   

Monday, September 8, 2014

We are Woman #Rally

In partnership with Equal Rights Amendment Now and Progressive Democrats of America, "We Are Woman," a group of committed activists working to bring issues of gender equality to national consciousness, is organizing a rally in Washington D.C. on September 13th. The intention of the rally is to support the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed amendment to the constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women. The event will follow a Congressional Day of Action on September 12th, where We Are Woman will meet with members of Congress.


Rallies and protests represent one way individuals can fight to have their voices heard. Do you think rallies and protests are effective means of action?  Do you think this rally will be successful? Can rallies and protests encourage political expediency on certain issues, like equal rights for women?  How will you take action on gender equality? Let us know in the comments!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Check out @NatUrbanLeague's website

The National Urban League, "a powerhouse for helping people secure economic empowerment," has a bold and interactive website featuring a new "I AM EMPOWERED" campaign in recognition of its centennial. The campaign seeks to instill messages of hope and individual empowerment in order to make a lasting difference around the issues of education, employment, housing, and healthcare. Visitors are to the site are encouraged to take action and sign a pledge committing their "time and talents to ensure that the nation is empowered to achieve the following goals by 2025:.
  • Every American child is ready for college, work and life.
  • Every American has access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits.
  • Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable and energy efficient housing on fair terms.
  • Every American has access to quality and affordable health care solutions."
Get Empowered by Taking the Pledge

How can organizations like the Urban League use such pledges to motivate followers to take action? Do you think campaigns like "I AM EMPOWERED" are successful in inspiring change? Will you take the Pledge?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Are you thinking about #humantrafficking on this #LaborDay?

As Americans celebrate Labor Day and recognize "the social and economic achievements of American workers,"  there are millions across the world who are victims of labor trafficking.  As McKenzie Cantrell, attorney with Kentucky Equal Justice Center, expressed in The Courier-Journal's "Labor of trafficked workers,"
This Labor Day, I'm thinking about workers. Not the workers who are enjoying the holiday at home with their families but the ones who are forced to work 12 hours or more a day and up to seven days a week. These workers are victims of human trafficking, specifically labor trafficking.

In her editorial, Cantrell talks about the realities of human trafficking but also identifies ways for readers to take action. She recommends:
• Learn more:Can you leave your job if you want to? Are you in debt to your employer? Is your employer paying you? The answers to these questions could reveal that a worker is subject to forced labor. Learn more "red flags" from a national group like Polaris Project. If you believe someone has been forced or coerced to work, call or text the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
• Take action: Your church or community group can host a forum, fundraiser, or community service project to raise awareness about forced labor. For example, advocates distribute chapsticks with the national hotline number at human trafficking hotspots across the state, which your group can help assemble. Victims' services groups like Catholic Charities in Louisville need basic items (furniture, gift cards, baby products) to help victims with short term housing.
• Spend conscientiously: Voting with your dollar is the most powerful thing you can do. Some everyday products like chocolate and coffee are tainted with child labor or forced labor. Research fair trade products and incorporate a couple of them into your regular shopping list.

On this Labor Day, what will you do to raise awareness of human and labor trafficking? How will you take action to end slavery, an injustice which Harriet Beecher Stowe herself fought to end through her anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin and subsequent activism?

Images courtesy of The Polaris Project.