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, January 29, 2015

Stowe on #CriminalMinds

Not exactly social justice related, but our own Harriet Beecher Stowe appeared on Criminal Minds last night. Well, her words at least.

Each Criminal Minds episode begins and ends and ends with a quote that encapsulates the themes of the episode.

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." - Harriet Beecher Stowe, Little Foxes (1865) 

What do you think this quote means? Do you know of any other Stowe/pop-culture connections? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Person of the Week: Kirby Dick and #TheHuntingGround #Sundance Doc

Though most of America recognizes the end of January for Super Bowl Sunday, film fans are focused on the most prominent film expo of the festival circuit: Sundance. This year at Sundance, documentaries are of particular note, and one is already receiving popular and critical praise. The Hunting Ground, from director Kirby Dick, explores sexual assault on college campuses and the ways in which university administrators cover-up charges of rape. 

In the same vain, as The Hunting Ground, Uncle Tom's Cabin and Harriet Beecher Stowe sought to shed light on the topic of slavery with the intention of galvanizing readers to support the abolitionist movement. 

What do you think the response of The Hunting Ground will be? Will it motivate colleges and universities to adjust their responses to sexual assault?  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#RadicalBrownies Inspire Action and Justice

Oakland's newest band of radical activists is a group of fourth-graders. The "Radical Brownies" out of Oakland, CA, are a politically conscious, socially active version of the Girl Scouts designed for young girls of color. Members wear berets in the style of prior activist groups, like the Black Panthers and Brown Berets, and earn badges on "Black Lives Matter" and "LGBT allyship."  

Co-founder Anayvette Martinez started "Radical Brownies" with the intention of creating an empowering, inclusive group where young girls of color could learn and develop as social justice activists. Created just a month ago, the group has 12 members in the Oakland area and is looking to expand to more cities soon.

What do you think of the "Radical Brownies"? How can we create more spaces where young people can participate in politically relevant practices?  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Can video games generate #empathy?

Planted in the developed world, it can be difficult to understand the tangled web of actors and issues that comprise the world's most pressing conflicts. Even more difficult than mere understanding, is relating to the plight of individuals and communities a world away. Project Syria aims to counteract this dissonance by granting users an opportunity to understand daily life amid the Syrian Civil War through interactive video play. Developed by students at the University of Southern California, the game utilizes first-person interviews, documentary footage, and audio samplings to give users an opportunity to immerse themselves, albeit virtually, in a high-conflict environment. 

Nonny de la Peña, head of Project Syria, describes virtual reality as an "empathy generator," and seeks with the project to inspire connections and motivate further learning on the Syrian conflict.  

What do you think of Project Syria? Can a video game connect users with the plights of communities around the world? Does it exploit the suffering some communities experience? 

Harriet Beecher Stowe's loss of her son Samuel Charles allowed her to begin to empathize with the heartbreak women who were enslaved endured when they were taken or separated from their families. She then infused this empathy into Uncle Tom's Cabin. Can we generate empathy without experiencing tragedy ourselves? Have you ever felt empathy from a movie, book, song, or game?  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Ways to Get Involved and Continue the Conversation

Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point? 

More Information and Ways YOU Can Take Action

Hartford Action

Greater Hartford NAACP

Urban League of Greater Hartford

YWCA Hartford Region








Kristin Stoller, The Hartford Courant

What other organizations would you add to this list? What other articles would you suggest? What are your thoughts on racial inequality? Have we reached the tipping point? How can we work to combat interpersonal, but also institutional racism and inequality? 

Friday, January 23, 2015

#SalonsatStowe Event Recap: Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point?

Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point?  

January 22, 2015
Transcript of program 

Katherine Kane, Executive Director Stowe Center:
Hello everyone and welcome to the first Salon of 2015. Salons at Stowe is an ongoing series about contemporary issues.  We don’t just talk about the issues, we find ways to solve them. And tonight, we are very lucky to have CTN here and filming the event.
This Salon-Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point is about headlines. Like this headline right here: “U.S. Not Expected to Fault Officer in Ferguson Case”.
This week is an important week to be talking about these issues. We started with MLK day. We had an open house and we had people wait all year to come to the Stowe House on MLK day to connect what Dr. King did to what Stowe did. Tonight we hope to generate those same connections, between Stowe and the present day. 

Before we begin, we have a series of upcoming programs that we hope you will join us for.

Our next Salon is Feb. 19th at 5:00 pm -Color of Justice, film and talk-back
Feb 25th at 7:00 pm Author Event:  Houses of Civil War
March 5th Nell Bernstein The End to Juvenile Prison
March 26th Is the ERA worth passing or Feminism: The Other F Word? Susan Campbell will moderate.
June 4th Stowe Prize honoring a contemporary writer who promotes justice in their works 

Tonight we are joined by three very important guests who share their stories and hopefully inspire you to take action.

Reverend Henry Brown is the founder of Mothers United Against Violence, a grassroots organization dedicated to preventing violence and advocating for community safety. A survivor of gun violence, Rev. Brown founded the organization in 2003 after growing tired of the growing acts of violence in Hartford and Connecticut. Rev. Brown leverages his community advocacy with spiritual work as well. He graduated from the Hartford Seminary in 2006 and was ordained by the Heart of God church in 2007.

Henrietta Beckman is the President of Mothers United Against Violence. Beckman helped found the organization after her son was killed by gun violence in 2002. As President, Henrietta is an outspoken advocate for community safety, victim’s families, and violence prevention. She works closely with Rev. Brown to deliver presentations, host community events, and honor those who have lost their lives to violence.    

Aswad Thomas is a second year Masters of Social Work student with a concentration in Community Organizing and focused area of study in Urban Issues at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. Aswad received a BA in Business Management from Elms College in 2009, where he led the Men’s basketball team to the school’s first-ever victory in the NCAA Division III Championship.  His life soon took a different path, after he suffered near-fatal injuries from two bullets to his back in the north-end of Hartford.
Since his recovery, Aswad has been one of Hartford’s most outspoken opponents of gang violence the past several years. He has shared his story at the Harvard Law School speaker series, with legislators at Capitol Hill, and throughout Hartford.  He is the founder of Hartford Action, a group dedicated to seeking justice on issues of police accountability and community safety. 

Who is going to begin?

Rev. Henry Brown:  
I guess, I’ll start-seniority. I’m very blunt and outspoken. I was raised in racism. I grew up in rural Georgia and racism was all around me. I threw a stick at a tracker-trailer once that was running off the highway-I was ten. An hour later I had 25 white people at my door looking for that “little nigger” boy and came to my house and they put me in jail at 10 years old. They chained me up at 10 years old. My father came and got me and he was so submissive and at that time I didn’t understand why. I thought “why is he acting like that?” He should be angry. I didn’t understand at that time why he had to be like that.  And at that point I became committed against fighting this.

In 1970s, I was a victim of gun violence, the day after I returned from the military. I got shot in the chest and was angry, so angry. I left and went to New Orleans and then came to Hartford, CT. Got a ticket, came up to Hartford, and it was a little different. Was colder for sure. I worked as an EMT up here, and then I landed a big job at Pratt and Whitney. Was not yet in violent prevention work, was more interested in myself and living for myself. Then 4 years later, Pratt and Whitney had a layoff, and went back to work for the Federal Government, worked for the Postal Service for 14 years. I was not as I said before, working for anything else, for a greater purpose, I was living for myself, thought nobody cared about me anyway, so that’s just what I was going to do.

And then in 2001 on July 5th Takira Gaston was shot. The next morning, after the little girl was shot, I saw that little girl’s face and I couldn’t control myself. I thought “you’re running around feeling sorry for yourself” and look at this little girl’s face. This is when my life started to change.  

Larry Woods my mentor. We worked together to find Hopestreet Ministry. We focused on drug dealers and trying to get them off the streets, but the one thing we didn’t realize was these people were put in this position to survive. If you’re a black person in the inner-city, you don’t have other opportunities, besides drug dealing. You know what? That’s the wrong message.

At one point, Hopestreet Ministry decided they wanted to become more proactive, they were saying we were reactive. Then one day there was a shooting on Planar street. They told me not to go and I went. And I didn’t know anything about preaching. I got a bible out of my car and read a passage. There were many people there from the community listening and wanting to do something. I thought that there’s hope in a system that has condemned people to failure. Our youth and our families are entrapped in racism and we need to act. So I went back to the mission, and said we need to do something.
There eventually was a separation from Hopestreet Ministry and then I founded Mothers United Against Violence, with mothers, like Henrietta Beckman, who had lost children to violence.

 People look at the young men pulling the trigger, but they are victims too. Don’t blame our youth, don’t blame our kids, change that perception-that’s what we try to do with Mothers United Against Violence. We do marches and do rallies and show  people about our communities. 

Katherine Kane:
So what can these people do?  

Rev. Brown:
Come to our meetings, every first Monday-285 Church Street. It’s all about humanity, it’s not about hating people. If we say there’s no hatred in the world, we’re lying. I have hope though. The youth today are not like the youth 20-30 years ago. I think they get along better, then we did. I think a lot of older people still have traces of racism in them. The younger people do not.   

We need to talk more and talk to each other. The only time we talk about MLK is in January and April-why don’t we talk about it everyday? We all know what the problem is? We all know the cop is not innocent. Grand jury finds no fault to commit. You got to understand what these people are crying out for.
In Hartford, we had a young person who was tased. I told the Police Chief that was wrong. Young boy in Cleveland-that was a drive by killing. These are the things that we have to change. As long as people support the police that kill kids, things won’t change. Bad cops run the police. We can’t change because we are so blinded by race. We need to change our perception of how we look at another human being.

Henrietta Beckman:
After that I am speechless. I don’t know how to follow that.
I got involved because my son Randy was killed. Violence has always been a way of life in our neighborhood. We teach children how to be respectful. I instilled all these good values in my children, and he still became a victim of violence. A lot of the black children feel that they are inferior to white children, they might not always realize it, but they feel it. We are all brothers and sisters, all human beings. I was a para for 13 years, and I would say to the students, no matter what their race, you could be anything you want to be. There was one girl, who came to me, crying, after a girl told her didn’t want to be her friend because she didn’t like black people. I went over to the girl and said Ms. B is black, how do you not like black people? That behavior comes from home. It doesn’t matter what race you are, we are all people. I became President of Mothers United Against Violence, not by choice, but we need to do something about violence in our community. We need to do something about the violence in music, violence on TV. We need to try to put things they way that they should be. 

Aswad Thomas:
Thank you to Stowe Center for having me. And thanks to Rev. Brown and Henrietta. It’s a blessing for me to still be here and walking. I was born in Hartford and then moved to Detroit. I had the perspective of seeing two cities. Both cities were poverty stricken communities. Back in the 80s, and are still poverty stricken. I had a friend we would play basketball, and hang out like all kids do. We would talk about sports and we dreamed of going to the NBA.  And at 10 years old, I lost him to violence. He was killed in a drive by-shooting. He wasn’t able to fulfill those dreams of his. Growing up in Detroit, I saw all the negative things in the community. Whenever I heard a gun shoot I would lay on the floor, we were trained to do that.

I decided that I was going to use my education and my basketball skills, to take me out of my neighborhood. I got to travel all around playing basketball. It gave me opportunities that my friends didn’t have. Most of my friends today are dead or in jail.

I decided at an early age I wanted to go to college. I studied hard and I tried to get my friends to do the same thing, but they couldn’t get it. They had too many negative influences.

I went to Elms College and played basketball. Being the first male in the family to ever graduate from college, it’s important for me and important for my family. I graduated, first male in my family to graduate from college. When I graduated, I was offered a contract to play basketball oversees. I was accomplishing a dream of mine to play basketball and travel the world.

Then just two weeks before I left to go play basketball, I became a victim of the cycle of urban violence. I was shot 2 times in the back in Hartford, when I was walking home. I remember waking up on the concrete; I couldn’t feel my body, couldn’t feel my arms. Then the thought went through my mind and I realized I got shot. I used all the strength to crawl to the corner store. I yelled to the man at the register to call the ambulance. I lost consciousness, and remember waking back up in the ambulance, and I wanted to stay alert.  I kept saying “I don’t want to die” and then the ambulance nurse told me after the 40th time, she told me to shut up and that I was not going to die on her watch.

My eyes were open and I could still see everything in the hospital. They were putting needles and drugs in me and I remember the nurse said “give him more Propofol” and I smiled to myself because Michael Jackson was my favorite artist. That was the drug that killed MJ.

I woke up and looked at my mom’s face, father, they’re all crying and I couldn’t talk. I was still confused, and was wondering why I got shot. I did all the things good kids are supposed to do. My first thoughts were would I play basketball again and my second was would I ever walk again. I could have been dead or paralyzed. When I got out of the hospital, I realized I was going to stand up for my community.

Rev. Brown was there for me throughout my whole recovery process. We went down to Capitol Hill, Harvard Law School. I know work sometimes as a motivational speaker. Now I go to Uconn, for Social Work. My background is in business, but I always liked working with people. I wanted to do something. I’m a young black male, I’ve lost too many friends and I wanted to do something.

I remember being in Tennessee with my girlfriend for Thanksgiving, and remember that’s when they had the announcement that there would be no indictment for Darren Wilson. And I called back to my friends in Hartford.  We wanted to do something to empower and inspire, right here in CT. December 6th, down Albany street, something that hasn’t been done in Hartford in 30 years. The youth that were here were powerful, and we have to keep doing things. I can tell you everyone here can make a difference, if you care about your community. You never know the small things that you can do for your community.  

I was the convocation speaker at Elms College and I do work to try to inspire young people, empower people, and stand up for our communities.

I’ve been thinking about the question for tonight: has racial inequality reached the tipping point? I was up all night thinking about it. And I say no, we haven’t reached our tipping point yet. Here in CT though, we have the largest economic inequality in the country. Hartford, New Haven are some of the most dangerous cities in the U.S.  We have mass incarceration in this country. It costs more money to imprison someone than to educate them, but we focus on imprisoning people.

Hartford, CT can be a model for change in the country. We can come together to make changes. We haven’t had a Mike Brown incident here, but we could tomorrow.

Rev. Henry Brown:
We did have an incident here in 2006. A police officer said he felt threatened and killed an unarmed man. There was an all-white jury, no indictment. He is walking free today.

Aswad Thomas, I am so proud of you. You are the hope we have for the community. When I got shot I reacted different. I remember when I got home from the military, my mother took my gun and I let her take it. And then I got shot. After I got shot, people were saying you got to go to the hospital. I was telling them no, I’m not going to the hospital. I remember it was a really raining night and we drove to the hospital. I was so angry the entire way there.  I got to the hospital and was really angry. And then this beautiful white nurse came over to me, I’ll always remember her face, and she asked me if I was alright. I said “Hell no, I’m not alright.” And she says I have something for you. She gave me a pinch in the neck, and everything was white, and then I woke up. Nurse said I was out for three weeks. Had me all drugged up, was feeling no pain. Thought they were going to give me fluid, and they gave me a needle. Every time that needle was stuck in me, I was enraged. I was angry after what had happened to me.

We have so many black people in this situation. We can change it, what are you all going to do to help us?

Audience member:
Just want to say first, that those are three inspiring stories. I would not believe, that those were part of the stories you would tell. I’m 74 and I don’t think I know 15 people that have died yet. It says a lot that we left communities to poverty, violence. I read these two stories in the Hartford Courant today…Did you know Greater Hartford is the richest community in the world? The income levels are about $70,000 less than Fairfield, but corporate wealth here is so big. There are a lot of disparities.

The next story comes from a with a  lot of history of violence. There was a young Palestinian who stabbed 13 people, and a police officer shot him in the foot. Just shot him in the foot and did not need to kill him.

Rev. Brown:
That’s amazing.

Katherine Kane (to audience member):
Are you also suggesting that there are resources here?

Audience member:
We do have resources. Need more people like Aswad and Rev. Brown to go into comfortable communities. I saw this in The Nation today; the typical Black person lives in a community that is 35% white, white people live in communities that are 75% white. The problem is one of invisibility.

Rev. Brown:
We all know the story of Newtown. Awful situation-we don’t want that for anybody’s children. But when that happened, the were so many resources that poured in after that happened. We had 400 people killed in Hartford. We had people in Hartford, mothers who couldn’t bury their children, begging for money.
In Hartford the city raised money for Newtown, but not one dime of that money went to Hartford and for the mothers here that were grieving. That broke my heart, not for me, but for our children.

Audience Member:
Aswad, what were the circumstances of you being shot?

Aswad Thomas:
Attempted robbery. Two individuals we guns approached me. I decided I was going to fight. We had a tussle, and then I was shot. But that split decision to fight, was what saved my life.

The individuals that shot me, one was 17 and one was 18 years. To hear the ages of the individuals that shot me, I felt bad for me, but felt bad for them too. That they had to rob someone to get money, to eat. That was what they had to do in their communities. To be 17 or 18 and try to rob someone and end up shooting me. We have to challenge people and find solutions and make a change.

Audience member:
One of the points you made, Rev. You said you would like us to help. I would like to know more about that. We are always saying we have to help ourselves. I know, speaking about my own point of you, we need others to help. I believe a lot of that help needs to come form the community, from the black community.

Rev. Brown:
What I tell people, is that if you don’t do anything, no one outside the community is going to do something. What happened last night, when the package store worker was killed. We should have a bunch of people out there. But if we’re not there, no one from the outside will be there. That’s what Mothers United Against Violence does. We are going out, to do something. No one is going to ride in to our community on a white horse and save us. I believe that if your effort is about humanity, if you help somebody than that is good enough.

People are concerned with logistics and that they need to know where their money is going to help out. Why do you have to use logistics, why does it matter if you don’t have a 501c3?  When we started Mothers United Against I was using my own pocket. I think that it doesn’t matter about money as long as you care.

I look around this room, I see a diverse crowd, but more white people. I talked with Aswad about this, we need to do more, be out there more. When are you going to say, I’m tired of being fearful and am going to fight back? I’m empowering our people to stand up for themselves. When you see people in Hartford getting shot, getting stabbed, and we don’t do anything. So I would like to see, even if you’re doing your own thing, be vigilant and have a message, have a voice. You’re showing others that I have power, I have a voice. We can’t keep talking about it and do nothing- we have to do more.

Aswad Thomas:
When you look at the Civil Rights movement, it wasn’t just black people. If you’ve seen Selma, white people were involved too. If you have some people who can come into the community and give hope, can change people’s lives. I founded Hartford Action looking to strengthen the community and argue for progressive policies in regards to criminal justice reform. Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, we need to cross that line. Take these stories with you and take them to your homes and into your lives.

Audience member:
Thank you for sharing your stories. I just have a few issues to raise about policy. I work in policy. You need to see how guns arrived in community, how they were brought into the community. Police have quotas. My son, similar to Aswad, was a victim of police quotas. My son wasn’t wearing a seat-belt. He got pulled over, said they found cocaine residue on the license. They cuffed him, brought him in. They released him and dropped charges. They took his license though. My son was a good kid, never missed a day, and he was released because he had people backing him. We need to look at policies. And sometimes police are victims as they are just following policies. We need to focus on changing some of the policies- people need to go and vote.

Rev. Brown:
I’m glad you said that. We are involved with the Hartford police station on Courageous Community Policing. A lot of young people don’t understand the policies. A lot of young people don’t know that if you get caught without a license that’s your first time in the system.

We don’t bring guns in the community. If we’re going to do anything, we need to ask where are the guns/drugs are coming from?

Audience member:
To the gentleman who asked the young man about circumstances, would you have asked someone who was white that question?

Audience member:

Audience member:
I think about talking about self love and how can you ask for an angel in a white horse to be a savior. How can you have self-love if you’ve never experienced love? A lot of young people in the community, grow up in not of the best situations. If you have privilege you need to extend it. Extension of privilege, go into community and help out.

We have a lack of compassion. We say oh “he probably was a drug dealer.” With Newtown we said “why did they do that, they were so innocent.” And they were, but no one deserves to have this happen to them. Go outside your community and just listen.

Audience member:
This follows nicely, with what the young lady just said. I went to the march and we need to do something now. White people need to do something. Get to know your fellow man, and you will be a changed person. I was very impacted by Newtown as a retired teacher. We were talking, talking with fellow teachers, and we said what about Hartford? We started a group called Step Up, Step Out, which is all about getting out of your comfort zone. Yes, I grew up with prejudice. I saw things that weren’t right. I am passionate about making our country a place we are proud of.
We see things that our wrong and we need to do something. We need to get rid of the guns. Go to the schools. Make a difference. Don’t just go home and do nothing.  Do something tomorrow.

Katherine Kane:
Who will do something tonight?

Audience Member:
We haven’t reached a tipping point. But we can get there. There is no biological differences between races. We have to clean up our language. Is there racism? I hear it, it’s out there. We’re not black or white, we don’t have race. We’re all us.

Audience member:
We were talking about education and I want to go back to that. My daughter is a CREC student. They’ve been talking about taking funds away from that. Sheff v. O’Neil was one of the most important cases in history. We need to make sure schools are still funded. I feel if we want our youth to understand each other, we have to put focus on CREC. We have to keep money going to integrate schools. If you look at CREC, we have integrated schools.  We need to keep supporting schools.

Audience member:
I wanted to offer big picture, little picture solutions. The book, The Justice Imperative, provides a tremendous amount of data on justice system in CT. Great book to partner with Michelle Alexander’s. On small scale, mentor, tutor. I come in just on one day a week to a school in Hartford. I’ve built wonderful relationships with the k-8 kids. When they leave at 5 o’clock, I worry about them. Some of the kids that have gone to college, they come back and are counselors. I volunteer with the Hartford Catholic Worker on Park Street. We are focused on relationships-we really are there to build a relationship with that community. I’ve done work at Milner school- you get more back then you ever put in.

Audience member:
I live in Hartford, benefited from White Privilege. I’m involved in getting gardens in empty lots. Aside from that I wanted to make a few brief points. In regards to schools, our neighborhood schools are hurting. Clark street school, Milner, they are hurting. 50% of Hartford students are not in Magnet schools. Tutor at those schools. One other thing Rev. Brown, I wanted to ask you how the community conversations are going with the police.

Rev. Brown:
They are going well.  On February 19th, we are having another series. We have a Police Chief now that is willing to listen, to bridge the gap between the community and the police. We are trying to change the perception of the police from the community and the perception of the community to the police. The events are held at the Police Athletic League-80 Williams Street.

Audience member:
I have an idea for a school. I teach at Westward Upper Elementary School in Farmington. We have Diversity and Inclusion Ambassadors at the school. These are students who want to be a part of the program and we have facilitators come in to deliver training. We talk and learn about “meanness,” how to be an ally. We strive to teach students at an early age how to be nice to each other. Start to pave the way towards harmony. Children are ambassadors, they have ideas that they brainstorm together. Aswad, would you come to our school one day?

Aswad Thomas:
I would love that. Another way to get involved is with Hartford Action. Hartford Action is holding a youth forum – Feb 25th from 5:30 – 8:00 pm. We are looking for volunteers, youth.

Rev. Brown:
April 5th, annual march to the state capitol. Very successful-this will be the 8th or 9th one. We have an influx of great people from all over CT. 

Aswad Thomas:
I want to leave with a quote from Michelle Alexander, “The fate of millions of people—indeed the future of the black community itself—may depend on the willingness of those who care about racial justice to re-examine their basic assumptions about the role of the criminal justice system in our society.”

Katherine Kane:
 Thank you to our Stowe Center Trustees for being here and for you all for coming. To finish, I think Henrietta you have a picture of your son. 

Henrietta Beckman:
This is my son Randy and this was the last picture he took before he passed.  

Rev. Brown:
His son looks just like him. He left a piece of him with her.

Katherine Kane:
Thank you again to featured guests. We hope you take what you learned here and make connections and go out and do something.  

Inspiration to Action:

-1st Mondays Mothers United Against Violence Meetings- 285 Church Street

-Talk about equality everyday
-Empower the young people in your community and outside your community
-Create mutual visibility- share your stories
-Create task force within your own community. Then join together.
-Join Hartford Action
-Change law enforcement policies
-Educate others on what you heard tonight
-Go into schools, listen to children, volunteer- use your privilege to better the community
-“Step Up, Step Out” group as an example
-Get outside your comfort zone
-Support education, CREC, and neighborhood schools
-Read The Justice Imperative and The New Jim Crow
-Work with city gardens to strengthen food access in communities
-Work on creating diversity and inclusion in schools
-Engage with the United Way Reading Program
-Participate in upcoming events: Feb. 19th 6:00 pm: Courageous Community Conversations with Police Department; Feb 25th 5:30 -8:00 pm: Hartford Action Youth Forum; April 5th: Annual Mothers United Against Violence march to the State Capitol  

Have any action tips to add? Didn't get a chance to share an idea? Do so below in the comments! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point?

Join us tomorrow, Thursday, January 22nd, for our first Salon of 2015. Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point? will feature Rev. Henry Brown, Founder of Mothers United Against Violence, Henrietta Beckman, President of Mothers United Against Violence, and Aswad Thomas, a student activist and Founder of Hartford Action.  

The Salon will feature discussion on the ways in which racial inequality has manifested in social and political contexts in the U.S., with a focus on what one can do to combat inequities and promote racial justice.    

Doors open at 5:00 pm for refreshments and the discussion begins at 5:30 pm!

See you there!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

#MLKDay at the Stowe Center

Looking for a way to reflect on the history of Dr. King? Come to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center for free tours and interactive activities designed to facilitate thought and dialogue on non-violence, protest, and the evolving landscape of civil rights in the U.S. Engage with Stowe's story of anti-slavery activism and think critically about the ways in which non-violence has been deployed or has not been deployed throughout U.S. history.


Free tours for all: January 19th 9:30 am - 4:00 pm

Bell ringing for peace: 12:00 pm

Interactive and family activities all day!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

"How Many Black #Abolitionists Can You Name?"


The Zinn Education Project recently asked "how many black abolitionists can you name?" to their teacher and student members. Well... how many can you name?

Why does history remember some individuals and not others? Who do we privilege in history? What can we do to change this perspective and make it more inclusive?  

         Frederick Douglass, perhaps the most well known black abolitionist. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

People of the Week: Winners of the #QueensYoungLeaderAward

28 young people from around the world were honored as recipients of the Queen's Young Leader Award, in recognition of their commitment to enacting positive social change.  The Queen's Young Leader Award is given annually to 60 young people (18-29) from Commonwealth countries, who have taken tangible steps to better their communities.  Winners receive mentoring and training on ways to increase productivity and sustainability in their fields.      

Nkechikwu Azinge, 26, Nigeria, founded the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation after witnessing family members struggling with the disease. 

Do you know of any young people making a difference? Throughout history, it is often young people who lead social movements and shepherd new ideas based on concepts of diversity and inclusion. Why then, do young people often get labelled as "lazy" or "apathetic"? How can we further inspire young people to take action? How can we create cross-generational movements that unite young people with established activists and organizers?   

Monday, January 12, 2015

Social Consciousness at the #GoldenGlobes and the Television Revolution

Last night, the 72nd Golden Globes ceremony aired to honor the best of television and film from the 2014 season, as decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Though traditionally a night of indulgence and fanfare, this year the Globes included touches of social and political consciousness, as winners acknowledged both contemporary and historic social movements.

Speeches referenced the attack on Charlie Hedbo in France, censorship from North Korea, and the growing opportunity for women in media. Of the most memorable moments of the evening, Common's speech for Best Original Song centered on the solidarity he experienced while working on Selma


The speeches underscored a more prominent shift in the Hollywood paradigm- the recognition of television as the purveyor of diverse and inclusive programming. Shows that feature diverse casts and subject matters ranging from a pregnant virgin, incarceration, and a transgender parent, like Jane the Virgin, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent all were honored Sunday evening over more traditional programming.   

A reason for this shift may be the decline of network cable shows and rise of alternative streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon. In the absence of large, often constraining corporate governing bodies that are reluctant to change, Netflix and Amazon have created content that is founded upon showcasing diverse and untold stories.  Transparent, the Amazon original series that follows a family with a transgender father, claimed two globes, one for Best TV Series and one for Best Actor.  

After winning, Tambor. a cisgender man, delivered a heartfelt speech where he referenced the evolving climate around gender identity and thanked the transgender community for the opportunity to be "a part of the change."

What did you think of last night’s winners? Have you noticed a shift in television storytelling? Why is diverse and inclusive storytelling important? Do you seek out television and films that include diverse perspectives? Though significant advances have been made, there is still a long way to go especially in terms of employing diverse actors for diverse stories. How do we work to make media more inclusive and more representative of those who watch it?   

Sunday, January 11, 2015

National Human #Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11th marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a campaign to draw attention to the roughly 20.9 million individuals trafficked into sexual slavery or forced labor worldwide. The day exists as part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, as declared by President Obama in 2013.

Human trafficking remains the world's fastest growing crime and increased awareness attached to concentrated action, may mitigate the spread of the institution.  Yet, sexual slavery, forced labor, and global trafficking are often tied to larger structural inequities, like poverty and gender discrimination.  Given the many factors that surround human trafficking, how does awareness move into action? 

Modern slavery is often difficult for individuals in developed countries to understand as it runs against traditional notions of slavery that tie the institution to the 19th century and American Civil War period. How can Americans work in solidarity with individuals in developing countries to eliminate human trafficking? 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

#Selma and "Deconstructing American Heroes" with @AVAETC

Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay, premiered January 9th nationwide to critical acclaim. The film depicts the Alabama Civil Rights protests that ultimately led to the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts.


DuVernay seeks to "invite people into the spirit of the movement," while "deconstructing American heroes" like Dr. King and President Johnson, to portray the complicated and significant struggle that defined the Civil Rights Movement.     

What power does film have to educate viewers on history? What power does film have to inspire viewers? Why is it important to "deconstruct" heroes? DeVernay was adamant about naming the film Selma, not King. Why do you think the film is named Selma

Will you see Selma? Let us know what you think! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Merits of "Hashtag Activism"

In "Hashtag Activism Isn't a Cop-Out," writer Noah Berlasky interviews Deray Mckesson, a leading organizer around issues of police brutality, on modems of the 21-century protest. Though often critiqued as a crutch and pacifying element of protest movements, social media, specifically Twitter, has worked to galvanize individuals across the country to create bottom-up, strategic movements to combat the killing of unarmed black men. On the role of Twitter, McKesson articulates "Missouri would have convinced you that we did not exist if it were not for social media. The intensity with which they responded to protestors very early—we were able to document that and share it quickly with people in a way that we never could have without social media. We were able to tell our own stories."

Mckesson continues outlining the collective nature of the Ferguson protests: "Ferguson exists in a tradition of protest. But what is different about Ferguson, or what is important about Ferguson, is that the movement began with regular people. There was no Martin, there was no Malcolm, there was no NAACP, it wasn't the Urban League. People came together who didn't necessarily know each other, but knew what they were experiencing was wrong. And that is what started this. What makes that really important, unlike previous struggle, is that—who is the spokesperson? The people. The people, in a very democratic way, became the voice of the struggle."

Protesters stage a 'Die-In" at Grand Central in NYC

What do you think of "hashtag activism"? Does it create easier avenues for individuals to organize? Does it help propel collective, bottom-up movements? Do you partake in "hashtag activism"? If so, let us know!       

#TDIH: War on Poverty

On January 8th, 1964, President Johnson declared a "war on poverty" in his annual State of the Union address. Though the number of individuals living in poverty have decreased since Johnson's speech, 16% of Americans still live below the poverty line. And while poverty remains a significant issue to the lives of many Americans, it largely remains out of public purview.

Shifting poverty rates in U.S. over 50 years 

51 years after Johnson's "war on poverty" where do we stand? How can we increase dialogue on issues of economic equality and poverty? Is there a stigma around issues of class? 

Check out these resources to get involved! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Human Trafficking is World's Fastest Growing Crime; What will you do?

Though considerable organizations and campaigns have been levied in recent years to raise awareness on global human trafficking, it remains the world's fastest growing crime.  The International Labor Organization estimated that there are currently 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide.  

To learn more about trafficking and ways to get involved, check out these organizations:

Polaris Project


The Project to End Human Trafficking

When discussing slavery, conversation is often set in the context of American history and the Civil War. Yet, slavery still exists today. What does it mean to be a modern day abolitionist? Does the way we teach history, specifically about slavery, impair students to take action on the issue today? How can we connect the abolitionist fight of the past to the fight of the present? 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

114th Congress Most Diverse Yet; Still 80% White, 80% Male

The 114th Congress is set to begin session today and when they do they will be the most diverse set of representatives in U.S. history. Of the 114th Congress, roughly 20% are women and 17% are non-White. Of course the reciprocal of those statistics indicate that roughly 80% of Congress is men and 83% is white.

Via DailyKos

Is your identity reflected in the 114th Congress? Check out this quiz developed by The Guardian, to determine how many individuals in Congress are like you.

How can we work to engage more identities in the political process? Are there social discourses that shape who we, as a society, think should run for public office? Are there discourses that shape who we think should be elected? How can we create a political process that is more inclusive and thus representative?   

Monday, January 5, 2015

Can Artists be Activists?: HBS as an Example @MHPShow

On Saturday, political commentator and host Melissa Harris-Perry posed the question of whether artists can be effective activists. Using examples of Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, and Macklemore, Harris-Perry and guests debated the current role of musicians in social justice causes. The conversation detailed the ways in which artists are often afraid to take stances on controversial issues as they may impact album sales, audience reach, and public reception.  

 Kanye West received backlash for his criticism of President Bush and media portrayals of black Americans after Hurricane Katrina. 

As a writer, Harriet Beecher Stowe used the media of her time, newspaper publications and novels, as a way to advocate an anti-slavery position. Though she received death threats and significant criticism, her career was not ultimately impaired, as she went on to write a total of 30 books. Yet, while Stowe was an artist, she made her advocacy a central and integrated part of her work, most notably through Uncle Tom's Cabin. Today, musicians, filmmakers, writers, and actors often try to appeal to a mass majority and thus are faced with a considerable economic risk if they step out of their genre and advocate on potentially controversial topics.

Can a "mainstream" artist, one occupying space in a traditional corporate or capitalist marketplace, be a true advocate for justice? Or is it easier for an independent artist to fight for issues of equality? Commentators on Harris-Perry's show described how early hip-hop music, often underground and independent to start, was built on fighting for racial justice and equality. Do certain genres of entertainment lend more easily to activism? What other artists are advocating for justice? Let us know!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"Fast thinking" Discrimination and #Racial #Bias

Social scientist Sendhil Mullainathan writes in the New York Times of "fast thinking" discrimination, or rather the phenomenon in which people generate assumptions on individuals, events, or ideas based on quick thoughts and first-impressions. "Fast thinking" discrimination or implicit bias, as some social scientists describe, begets race-based inequities in housing, employment, and medical care among other situations.

Mullainathan provides examples of empirical studies in which quick decisions elicited unintentional discriminatory results. He cites his own study completed in 2003, in which he sent hundreds of resumes, identical in content, but differing in the name attached to the resume, to employers across the country. Resumes with traditional white or European names yielded 50% more results than those with traditional African American names. When the results of the study were published, employers were shocked to find that though they believed they were conscious of diversity in hiring, that unconsciously they were operating under preconceived biases and notions.

How can we combat "fast thinking" discrimination? To conclude, Mullainathan explains that everyone, by product of receiving long-held and stereotypical ideas of race (or gender, sexuality, ability etc.) from history, media, or education, participates in forms of "fast thinking" discrimination or implicit bias. What are ways in which we can train ourselves to not hold implicit biases on race, gender, sexuality, class or any form of identity? Or better yet, how can we prevent the formation of unconscious bias in the first place? 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"The Future is in Color"

Spoken word artist Lemon Andersen and direct Paola Mendoza produced an end of year video documenting the political events, struggles, and victories that characterize 2014. "The Future is in Color" is a project of Sons & Brothers of the California Endowment, a division of President Obama's national initiative aimed at empowering young men of color.    

What do you think of the video? Were there any additional moments you would include? What will be the events that define 2015? 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Social Justice Trends of The Week

Happy 2015! With a new year, comes new opportunities to engage in contemporary issues of justice and equality.  

Here's the social justice trends people are talking about this week:

State of California begins offering licenses to undocumented immigrants: A new law began on Friday, allowing undocumented immigrants residing in California opportunity to apply for state driver's licenses.

U.S. Justice Department sues New York over conditions in Rikers Island:  In mid-December, the Justice Department announced its intention to sue the city of New York over discriminatory treatment of minors at Rikers Island. The pending litigation stems from a report issued by Preet Bahara, U.S. district attorney from Southern New York. The report, compiled after two years of research and investigation, revealed a "deep seated culture of violence" directed at young inmates.
Attorney Preet Bahara presents on report findings 

Alabama puts focus on prison reform in 2015: In January of 2014, the U.S. Justice Department issued a letter to Alabama state officials concerning the unjust conditions in Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. The letter prompted introspection on the part of Alabama state officials and a subsequent task-force designed to improve conditions. AL.com, a leading news publication in Alabama, published over three hundred stories on experiences with the Alabama prison system, and as a result issued three imperatives necessary to enact change. The imperatives include- improvements to basic living conditions in prisons, the need to hold state legislatures accountable for their actions regarding justice reform, and an investigation into the root causes of incarceration.      

What other current events are trending this week? What do you think is the most critical issue to focus on as we move into 2015?  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January Salon: Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point?

The first Salon of 2015 will be held on January 22nd, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Stowe Center. Under the title "Has Racial Inequality Reached the Tipping Point?" the Salon will focus on the recent events in Ferguson and New York and include conversation on the progression of racial politics in the U.S. Featured guests include Rev. Henry Brown, Founder of Mothers United Against Violence and Henrietta Beckman, President of Mothers United Against Violence.

See you there!