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.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Confronting the Racist History of the North

In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Professor Jason Sokol unearths the muddled and often overlooked history of race and racism in the North. "The Unreconstructed North" juxtaposes Southern racial history, of which there is a clear and identifiable discourse, against the seemingly non-racialized history of the North. 

Map of U.S. States during Civil War 

Southern history, as Sokol describes, is impossible to face without acknowledging Jim Crow, slavery, and the post-war reconstruction period. Yet, this same introspection and critique is never applied to the history of the North, a history that includes school segregation, race riots, open discrimination both by law and by fact, and evident most recently with the death of Eric Garner, bouts of police brutality.

To continually ignore the realities of race in the North, is to not only offer a misguided view of history, but to perpetuate the unnecessary and unproductive North/South socio-political dichotomy. Since the days of the first colonizers, the South has always occupied a unique cultural and political space- one that has often drastically differed from the identity of the North. In many ways this divide has deepened since the Civil War- just this week for example, all Democratic Senate seats were expelled from the region, making the South entirely Republican represented, while the North remains connected to the Democratic party. 

How can we properly address Northern history? How do we confront the ways in which the North was complicit in slavery and thus in the residual structural inequities that slavery procured? Will confronting American history from a holistic view instead of a geographic view, help mitigate the division between North and South?     


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