The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is celebrating Stowe's 200th birthday this week with a number of events, including the awarding of the inaugural Stowe Prize on Thursday.
Authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn will be awarded the $10,000 prize for "Half the Sky," a book that looks at the oppression of women worldwide as a major issue of today, just as the fight against slavery was in the past.
"We wanted to give a prize for writing and chose to give a prize for writing that exposes a problem and an issue and presents solutions," said Katherine Kane, the executive director of the center. "['Half the Sky'] really met our criteria of a book that has a similar type of impact as 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' "
Kane said that Stowe's 200th birthday was a great opportunity for the center to introduce the Stowe Prize and that the center had been thinking about the prize for about three years.
Because tickets to the Stowe Prize fundraising dinner are either $150 or $250, Kane said that it's important for the center to hold other events that are more accessible.
"It's a fundraising event, but we also try and have things that are generally open to the public," said Kane.
Before the prize is awarded, both Kristof and WuDunn, who are husband and wife, will be part of an interactive panel on creating social change Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Immanuel Congregational Church.
The rest of the celebration is highlighted by an appearance from the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Bushnell's Belding Theater for a program titled "Call to Action: A Conversation on Race and Social Justice."
U.S. Rep. John Larson will welcome the delegation, which will include its chairman, Emanuel Cleaver. The center is holding the program as part of the bicentennial weekend with several panels to be moderated by WNPR's John Dankosky at the center.
The celebration will also include a birthday party for Stowe on Saturday at the center and a 24-hour reading of Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," where volunteers will read passages from the book beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the center.
"This is a big deal for Hartford," said Kane. "It's not like we have dozens of literally international figures ... we have two. We're an international tourist attraction."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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