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.

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?   

No comments: