After our vibrant workshop at Holyoke, I decided to dive into using seminar in my ENG 102 Literature and Composition course. It had been awhile, admittedly, since I relinquished that much control in a class, even though most of my classes feature active learning strategies. As predicted, handing the class over to the students flourished and nourished deep discussion of our common play, The Whipping Man. Continue reading
Author Archives: kevin
Check out this video featuring George Scott, owner of Scott’s Jamaican Bakery in Hartford. It gives a little history and George recites his favorite poem, recalling his early life in Jamaica.
I heard this on the radio the other evening, and thought immediately of our upcoming workshop. The recording isn’t great but a fun little ditty nonetheless.
Despite all its flaws, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Christian abolitionist activism is inspiring and leads me to an ahistorical question: if Stowe were alive today, what issues would she be most concerned with? In the weeks since our visit to the Stowe Center, the activist landscape has been dominated by the “Occupy” movement. Started on Wall St as a living protest against economic injustice and the concentration of resources, power and policy among the richest few Americans, the movement has spread to Hartford and other cities across the world. Recently, on a radio program, I heard that the percentage of actual unemployment in the country is about 16%, including those people who have stopped looking for jobs. The guest on the program said that was about the same percentage of people in this country who were slaves in the mid-1800s. This parallel between slavery and today’s economic situation is striking.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending, designing and leading several tours of alternative Hartford history over the years. The best source of this kind of wonderful info is Steve Thornton. His day job is with SEIU 1199, but by night he’s an amateur (only in that he doesn’t get paid) progressive/radical/labor historian of Hartford. Steve’s website, Hartford Homefront, features current activism, but also his Shoeleather History of Hartford. On June 21, Steve led a tour of the Charter Oak Avenue area of Hartford as a benefit for the CT Center for a New Economy, and while the distance was small, the amount of amazing history he uncovered was tremendous. What follows are some of the highlights:
I was struck reading Chapman’s book by many things. First, her geographic progression down Main Street and Asylum Avenue was exciting to read, as I know many of the streets and intersections well. I felt some vicarious pride toward my city. On the other hand, I also recognized the privileged lens through which she reminisced. Continue reading