Yesterday I attended the Harriet Beecher Stowe center’s big tent jubilee in honor of Harriet’s 200th birthday. I was inspired by the hundreds of change agents and social entrepreneurs that gathered to honor the woman who helped to bring slavery to an end in America.
As part of the festivities, the Stowe Center has created a literary award with the first recipients being Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Kristof and WuDunn were honored with a prize of $10,000.
The birthday celebration kicked off with a Inspiration to Action Fair featuring multiple non-profit organizations helping locally and globally; a panel discussion with Kristfol and WuDunn, plus Congresswoman Laura Richardson who serves the 37th district of California, Eva Hausman, co-founder of the Mothers’ Day Movement and 17-year old Shannon McNamara, founder of SHARE organization that has built four libraries serving over 8,000 students in rural Tanzania, Africa.
The Stowe Center will be conducting a 24-hour read-a-thon of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s first book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This “must read book” written over 160 years ago is still relevant to the many social injustices that exist today, including the modern day form of slavery which is human trafficking – an unjust social travesty that is happening in nearly every town, city and country in the world.
The little woman who wrote the book that started this great war
According to history, when President Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, he said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war”. This book gives evidence to historical fact that Harriet did meet President Lincoln in 1863 at his Gettysburg Address. Her son, Fredrick fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin out of a burning need to “do something” about the infamous Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that required Northerners to assist in returning enslaved men, women and children to their owners.
In an article written by Barbara Sicherman entitled “Women Who Changed the World” in the magazine Connecticut Explored (Vol. 9, No. 3, Summer 2011), she explains that “by any measure, she succeeded. Published first as a magazine serial, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) galvanized anti-slavery sentiment in the north and in England and become the best-selling book of the century after the Bible. Its success made Stowe the most powerful voice in the anti-slavery movement.”
The Mothers’ Day Movement is formed
“I just HAD to do something” – Eva Hausman, co-founder of MothersDayMovement.org
In the spirit of Ms. Stowe’s activism, there was a panel discussion of “Real Stories of Social Change.” My good friend Eva Hausman, co-founder of the MothersDayMovement.org, was one of the panelists. She and her founding team of women (shown in photo to the right, missing is Erica Buchsbaum) were able to raise $135,000 in less than two weeks to help the non-profit organization, Shining Hope for Communities that runs the Kibera School for Girls in Africa.With this money Shining Hope for Communities will be able to build 16 new classrooms with teachers, nurses and others services to help the impoverished girls and families in the Kibera slum in Nairobi in Kenya, Africa.
We can all do something!
In her closing words, Eva reminded us that “Each and everyone of YOU can make a difference. No one person can do everything, but we can all do something.”
I encourage you all to “do something” – activate yourself and your network behind a cause that you feel passionate about and change the world for the better!