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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Talking about Charleston? Come to the first #StoweSalonsatLunch

This Wednesday, July 1st, the Stowe Center will present the first Stowe Salon at Lunch, a brown bag lunch discussion on the pressing issues of the week. For the first program, the topic of conversation will be the shooting in Charleston. 

President Obama singing "Amazing Grace" at Rev. Clementa Pinckney's funeral. Rev. Pinckney was killed in the attack at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  

The attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, or "Mother Emanuel" as it is known in Charleston, elicited conversations on white supremacy, racism, and history, as well as triggered the removal of Confederate flags from public sites across the South. 

What was your reaction to the shooting in Charleston? Amid months of attention and protests paid toward the killing of unarmed black men by police officers, what does this attack say about the current status of race and racism in America? 

Do you have something to say about Charleston? Add your voice to the conversation tomorrow. To help prepare for the Salon check out 2015 Stowe Prize Winner Ta-Nehisi Coates's piece "What this cruel war was over"  and the CT African American Affairs Commission's official statement on Charleston.      

Stowe Salons at Lunch will take place every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 pm in the Stowe Visitor Center throughout the summer. Bring your lunch and engage with us on the important issues of the day! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The #ConfederateFlag and the Power of Symbols

As a museum, the Stowe Center is continuously engaged in the process of interpreting historical objects and symbols. These objects and symbols are more than material entities; they tell stories about the past and lend insights into the cultural, political, and social climate of the period in which they appeared.    

The recent killing of nine individuals in Emmanuel A.M.E. Church by in Charleston, South Carolina ignited a discussion over whether the Confederate Flag, a long-kept symbol of the antebellum period and slavery-defined south, should still fly in public. Proponents of the initiative to take down the flag argue that though it is a symbol, it is one that holds tangible power in spreading ideas of exclusion and discrimination and implying that the ideals of the Confederacy are acceptable.

State workers in Alabama take down a Confederate Flag after orders from the Governor. 

Beyond the Confederate Flag, countless other objects and symbols of history dictate complicated narratives and ideologies.  After the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, merchandise was created that depicted Uncle Tom both as Stowe intended and then as a subordinate, weak enslaved man. These caricatures contributed to the creation of the pejorative "Uncle Tom" and served as symbolic support for the continued subjugation of black individuals during reconstruction and Jim Crow. Today, these objects serve as a reminder of the continued use of the slur "Uncle Tom" and the connection between the political climate of the 19th century and today.        

What cultural, political, or social power do symbols like the Confederate flag have? Can the removal of the Confederate Flag contribute to larger cultural or political change? How? 

Are you interested in talking more about Charleston? Attend the first Stowe Salon at Lunch on July 1st! Every Wednesday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm in the Stowe Center Visitor Center, we'll be engaged in a discussion on the pressing issues of the week. Bring your lunch and join us!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Reflecting on the Past and Present 150 Years After #Juneteenth

June 19, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of “Emancipation Day,” the symbolic ending of slavery in the United States, in which the last of enslaved persons were freed. Since 1865, the day has been celebrated as "Juneteenth" a combination of June and 19. Despite its historical significance, Juneteenth is not largely celebrated nor remembered. In "Juneteenth is for everyone" Kennet C. Davis writes: 

"Still, 150 years after its birth, Juneteenth remains largely unacknowledged on America’s national calendar. Many Americans are unaware of its existence, or its roots. Sadly, that ignorance of Juneteenth reflects a deeper issue: the continued existence of two histories, black and white, separate and unequal."

                                         Emmanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina

The 150 anniversary of Juneteenth comes days after an act of terror took the lives of nine individuals in the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The church was founded by Denmark Vesey a former enslaved person who plotted a rebellion in 1822. Vesey served as partial inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's second anti-slavery novel, Dred

What do you think Davis means when he writes about the "continued existence of two histories"? What does Juneteenth mean in 2015? In light of recent tragedies and acts of violence against the black community, how can we work to recognize the layers of American history and work to address its implications?

What does Juneteenth mean in 2015?

Friday, June 12, 2015

City of Hartford residents! Do you love Hartford and the Stowe Center?

Check out the part-time, paid, durational Community Engagement Coordinator position in the Center's Education and Visitor Services team. http://bit.ly/19tpMzs

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

.@tanehisicoates and @johndankosky talk "The Case for Reparations" on @wherewelive

On June 4, the Stowe Center presented the 3rd Stowe Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice to Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic. Coates participated in a public program with WNPR's John Dankosky, where he spoke on his work, his family, and his landmark piece "The Case for Reparations."  WNPR recorded the program for use in their series "Where We Live," which aired Monday morning. Listen to the program here!

A packed house at Immanuel Congregational Church for the Stowe Prize public program

Did you attend the Stowe Prize public program? Did you listen to the segment on Where We Live? What do you think? What did you think about the issue of reparations before? And after? Let us know! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

James Tillman and The Power of Conviction

In conjunction with the Mark Twain House & Museum and Community Partners in Action, the Stowe Center presents The Power of Conviction tonight, an author event with James Tillman, co-author Jeff Kimball, and moderator John Motley. The Power of Conviction focuses on Tillman's story in the Connecticut criminal justice system through his wrongful conviction, appeals, and ultimate exoneration after 18 years.

James Tillman, after his release 

Originally convicted in 1989 for multiple charges of sexual assault, larceny, kidnapping and robbery, Tillman began to receive legal aid in 2005 from The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization focused on overturning wrongful convictions through use of DNA testing. Through use of advanced DNA testing that was not available at the time of Tillman's original conviction, Tillman was proved innocent and was exonerated in 2006.

Since the conception of the Innocence Project, 329 individuals across 37 states have been exonerated through DNA testing. What do these statistics say about the success of the U.S. justice system? How can Tillman's story contribute to the fight for criminal justice reform?

Saturday, June 6, 2015