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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Ways to Get Involved and Continue the Conversation

The Color of Justice 

Last week, the Stowe Center and Mark Twain House & Museum presented The Color of Justice, a facilitated program and film on racial disparities in juvenile justice.

More Information and Ways YOU Can Take Action
Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance

Connecticut Voices for Children

Coalition for Juvenile Justice

Community Partners in Action

Project Implicit

How Connecticut Changed the Juvenile Justice World
Liz Ryan, CT Post

Routinely Shackling Accused Kids is Wrong
Abby Anderson, The Hartford Courant

Across America, whites are biased and they don’t even know it
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

Action Steps 
-Continue the conversation on race and juvenile justice
-Host a forum on The Color of Justice-Create a film club, discussion group
-Share Color of Justice resources on Facebook and Twitter
-Send a letter to your representative
-Get involved locally
-Advocate for youth programs
-Divert children from justice system and keep kids in the juvenile justice system (no adult prison if no adult charges)
-Address kids needs early  

What will you do on juvenile justice? Will you host or attend another Color of Justice forum? Let us know! Contact the CT Juvenile Justice Alliance for more information! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Meet the featured guests

Image result for color of justice film

Tonight, the Stowe Center and Mark Twain House & Museum will present The Color of Justice, a film screening and discussion on racial disparities in the juvenile justice system. Leading the program will be Lara Herscovitch, Michaelangelo Palmieri, and Cathy Jackman.
Learn more about them below!

Lara Herscovitch
Deputy Director, Juvenile Justice Alliance

Lara Herscovitch joined the Ct Juvenile Justice Alliance in February 2008. As deputy director, she is involved in all aspects of the work of the Alliance, and has led its efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities and reduce school-based arrests. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit programs, policy, and organizational development. Lara holds an MSW in Policy & Planning and Community Organizing from the University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work and a BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts.

Michaelangelo Palmieri
Juvenile Matters Supervisor II, Superior Court for Juvenile Matters-Middletown

Michaelangelo Palmieri is a Juvenile Matters Supervisor II at the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters – Middletown Juvenile Probation Department. He is currently a member of the Judicial Branch - Court Support Services Division’s Advisory Committee for Cultural Responsiveness whose mission is to encourage culturally competent and linguistically appropriate interactions among CSSD staff, clients, families, contracted providers and communities. In addition, Michaelangelo represents the Juvenile Probation Department as part of Meriden Board of Education’s School Pathways to Juvenile Justice Project, which is one of 16 national sites chosen by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) for their multi-system change pilot. Michaelangelo brings over 15 years of experience working in the Juvenile Justice system as a Juvenile Probation Officer and contracted provider, having worked in both center-based and residential programs. He received his B.A. in Sociology from Bridgewater State College and completed a Graduate Certificate in Latino Community Practice at University of St. Joseph.

Cathy Jackman
Documentary filmmaker

Cathy Jackman is a freelance documentary filmmaker committed to generating change through social justice and education. Recent films include the Emmy-award winning “Education vs. Incarceration”, and “The Color of Justice,” released in 2013 on Connecticut Public Television. For 25 years, Cathy has worked on commercial, non-profit, marketing, and television programs, and has shown films at festivals worldwide. She is recipient of numerous Community Service and technical awards, including the “Champion of Children” award from the Center for Children’s Advocacy, and the NAMI Mental Illness Awareness Media Award. Cathy’s other interests include reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, and the world of philanthropic giving. Cathy has mentored several youth involved with the criminal justice system, and continues to work for the rights and well -being of all children through her work with Artists for World Peace, an organization that assists children worldwide.

What do you plan to ask at the program? What do you want to know about juvenile justice? Let us know! 

The Color of Justice will begin at 5:30 pm at the Mark Twain House & Museum auditorium. See you there! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

#SalonsatStowe Prep: New Study Highlights Disparities in School Punishments

In recent years, school districts, community activists, and police forces, have made efforts to reconsider the ways in which students, particularly students of color, are disciplined. Most of these efforts have focused on male students, and the disproportionate rates of punishment male students of color receive as compared to their white counterparts. A new study produced by Columbia University law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and her associates Priscilla Ocen and Jyoti Nanda, shifts the lens to focus on female students of color. The study, "Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Unprotected", found that black girls are punished at more severe rates than white girls and that the disparity in punishment between black and white girls is higher than that of black and white boys. 


Professor Crenshaw notes that the first step in reducing these disparities is recognizing that they exist. What else can be done? Who should be involved in conversations about school punishment? Teachers? Students? Community partners?   

The subject of race in the juvenile justice system will be the focus of The Color of Justice, the Stowe Center's next Salon on February 19th. Presented with the Mark Twain House & Museum, the program will begin at 5:30 pm at the Mark Twain House & Museum auditorium. Doors will open at 5:00 pm for refreshments. 

Join the conversation on juvenile justice and learn about ways you can take action!  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Is Presidents' Day the New Columbus Day?

The celebration of America's presidents is so folded into cultural lexicon that it almost goes unnoticed. Currency, schools and airports, awards, all bear the names and legacies of our highest officials. Presidents' Day, originally erected to honor President George Washington's birthday, is perhaps the most obvious example of our adoration. Yet, within this context, it is often easy to overlook the nefarious histories of our leaders, including those that involve slavery.   

In "George Washington, Slave Catcher", Professor Erica Dunbar examines the relationship between President Washington and the individuals he enslaved. Dunbar is not the first to expose the realities of Washington's history with slavery. Actress Azie Mira Dungey created Ask A Slave, a comedic web series focusing on the perspective of Lizzie Mae, housemaid to George and Martha Washington. Dunbar's easy and Dungey's series provides an alternative perspective to Washington that is often overlooked in traditional history lessons.      


Just like Columbus Day, Presidents' Day has served as a day to honor, but not truly expose the complicated histories of so-called American heroes.

Why do we overlook certain aspects of U.S. presidents? If we condemn slavery as morally wrong, then why do we honor those complicit in the institution? How can we create a complete history curriculum where U.S. presidents are both remembered and critically examined?   

Thinking about #Stowe and #Lincoln on Presidents' Day

On this Presidents' Day, why not reflect on the meeting of Stowe and Lincoln?

Harriet Beecher Stowe and President Lincoln famously met in the early 1860s after Uncle Tom's Cabin had reached its peak success and the U.S. was exploding in a full-on Civil War. Stowe was on a trip to Washington D.C. with her daughter Hattie, when the two famous anti-slavery activists exchanged words.  

According to legend, President Lincoln remarked to Stowe: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war..." Records also indicate that the President borrowed A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, Stowe's follow-up text to UTC, from a local library as he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln Financial sculpture garden on the Riverfront Plaza in Hartford 

What do you think Lincoln meant when he suggested Stowe started the Civil War? What else do you think was said between Stowe and Lincoln?  

Monday, February 9, 2015

#Blacklivesmatter and #ItsOnUs at the #Grammys

From Harriet Beecher Stowe to Public Enemy, art, whether literature, movies, or music, has long been held as a tool for social progress. Last night, The 57th Grammy Awards, highlighted the ways music serves as a purveyor of justice, with subtle and explicit references to the country's most pressing social issues.  

Several performers, including Pharrell and BeyoncĂ©, brought #Blacklivesmatter to the stage, with performances that referenced solidarity with those fighting police brutality. Prince, took the charge a step further, and declared while introducing the nominees for Best Album- 
“Albums — you remember those? They still matter. Like books and black lives, they still matter.”     

Pharrell performs "Happy" at the 57th Grammys and nods to "Hands Up, Don't Shoot"

Perhaps the most buzzed about moment of the night was President Obama's domestic violence public service announcement. About midway through the program, President Obama appeared to implore the music industry to take the lead on ending domestic and sexual violence through the White House's It's On Us campaign.    


President Obama's PSA was followed with a spoken word performance by Brooke Axtell, a survivor of human trafficking and domestic abuse. Immediately after Axtell, Katy Perry performed "By the Grace of God," an emotional ballad from her Grammy nominated album Prism, which many interpreted as a reference to the tragedies of an abusive relationship.

Brooke Axtell performing at the 57th Grammys  

Like the NFL's domestic violence PSA a week earlier, the Grammys inclusion of domestic violence awareness drew criticism. Many viewers highlighted the striking irony that is an industry that tries to promote an end to gender based violence, while also allowing Chris Brown and R. Kelly, convicted and accused abusers respectively, to receive repeated nominations for their work. Last night, Brown was nominated for three Grammys and R. Kelly for one.  

So what do you think? Do the Grammys care about ending domestic violence? Does the NFL? How can we demand industries and organizations to more fully support social justice and positive change in all of their operations? 

Friday, February 6, 2015

.@NYTCivilWar asks "Was Abolitionism a Failure?"

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War, The New York Times has created Disunion, an online blog that uses diaries, primary sources, and contemporary analysis to follow the war as it happened. This week, the blog featured an essay by historian Jon Grispan entitled "Was Abolitionism a Failure?". Grispan argues that abolitionism was largely unpopular prior to the Civil War, and it was the secession of the South and subsequent war, that allowed abolitionist thought entrance into mainstream political debate. 

Grispan writes: 

"In a deeply racist society, where most white Americans, South and North, valued sectional unity above equal rights, “abolitionist” was usually a dirty word. One man who campaigned for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 complained: “I have been denounced as impudent, foppish, immature, and worse than all, an Abolitionist.”" 

Harriet Beecher Stowe was not at first considered an abolitionist either. While her younger brother Henry Ward Beecher took up the cause with force, Stowe positioned herself as an advocate against the harsh cruelties of slavery, drawing slight parallels from the hardship she endured as a mother who lost her child to the loss individuals held in slavery were forced to endure. She diverts explicit abolitionism in Uncle Tom's Cabin by concluding the novel with the travel of several formally enslaved characters to Liberia, a country colonized by the U.S. as a place for the formerly enslaved. Stowe later evolves on this position, and comes to embrace the idea of permanent abolition to the practice of slavery. 

As Grispan notes, the identity "abolitionist" is now championed by contemporary activists, who work to liberate individuals, institutions, and and communities from oppression, whether it be political, economic, social, or environmental. 

Do you consider yourself an abolitionist? Does it often take a glaring, traumatic event, such as a war to mobilize movements? Have you ever evolved on a position like Stowe did? How have you learned about abolitionism and the Civil War? Share your ideas below!    

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Am Taking Action

The Stowe Center strives to connect the past to the present and inspire visitors to create positive change in their own communities. So, we want to know- what are YOU doing?

What social justice issue(s) are you passionate about?

What actions are you taking to create positive change

A young visitor to the Stowe Center expresses her passion for economic justice

Let us know by emailing info@stowecenter.org or writing in the comments below! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

#Mediawelike at the #SuperBowl

Last night, the Super Bowl provided last-minute thrills, dancing sharks, and plenty of funny, heartwarming, and even tragic advertisements. In recent years, The Representation Project, an organization devoted to promoting fair representation of gender in the media, has used the Super Bowl to draw attention to sexist commercials by tweeting #Notbuyingit after any misogynist or patronizing adverts. For the second year in a row, the organization tweeted #Mediawelike along with #Notbuyingit to promote companies representing progressive portrayals of gender and identity.

It seemed that this year provided more opportunity to use #Mediawelike then in years past, with advertisements focusing on families, empowerment, and acceptance. Below are several of the most notable #Mediawelike moments of the game.

Procter & Gamble's and Always's "Like a Girl" was originally released in the summer, but re-aired during the game. The commercial reclaims the old insult "Like a Girl" and highlights the ways conceptions of "girlhood" are used to devalue the pursuits and ambitions of young girls.  

Invisible Mindy, one of the more humorous spots of the night, depicts Mindy Kaling moving through town as seemingly invisible. The ad provides a thinly veiled critique of the ways women and women of color are deemed invisible in the media. Plus, Matt Damon makes a cameo at the end.

Dads seemed to be a common theme in this year's Super Bowl commercials. Dove focused an entire ad on the concept of masculinity and fatherhood. The spot show Dads in all moments of parenthood and claims that "real strength" is shown by caring.

One of the few serious ads of the night, project No More in conjunction with the NFL, presented a spot focusing on the realities of domestic violence. The ad was not without criticism, as many noted the irony of the NFL promoting domestic violence awareness after its notorious mishandling of several abuse cases in the 2015 season. Perhaps this commercial serves as a start for the NFL to take more action.  


Always a fan favorite for Super Bowl viewers, Coca Cola takes aim at cyberbulling in their latest ad and encourages viewers to #MakeitHappy as an alternative to spreading negativity and hate. 

What were your favorite commercials of the night? What did we miss? Do you think advertisements are getting more progressive? Are these advertisements indications of a more inclusive and equitable media to come? 

#SalonsatStowe: Feb. 19th The Color of Justice

On February 19th, the Stowe Center will present The Color of Justice, a film and facilitated discussion on the unfair treatment on minority youth in the juvenile justice system. The program will be held at the Mark Twain House & Museum from 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm.

The Color of Justice is produced by CPTV and is delivered in partnership with the CT Juvenile Justice Alliance. The film aired in 2013 and is used in school systems, juvenile probation officer trainings, and community  centers to initiate conversation on injustices circulating juvenile detention.  

The program is free and open to the public.  See you there! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#BlackHistoryMonth, #LangstonHughes, and #Greensboro mark Feb. 1st

Though many are focused on the Super Bowl, February 1st marks several other significant historical and cultural moments. February 1st is the beginning of Black History Month, famed African American poet Langston Hughes's birthday, and the day 4 North Carolina A & T students began the now historic Greensboro sit-ins to protest segregation.

Google Doodle featuring the words of Langston Hughes.   

What are you thinking about today? How can we integrate these events and black history into our discussions and education curriculum year-round? One way is to stop by the Stowe House and see the words of Langston Hughes, who called Uncle Tom's Cabin "a moral battle cry for freedom."