2016 Marathon Reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (#StoweMarathon)

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of being a reader at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s annual 24-hour marathon reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Hartford, CT.  The marathon wrapped up minutes after 11 o’clock this morning, but the reading was streamed live and you can watch the recording by clicking here if you’re interested.

Each volunteer read for 10 minutes. As you can see in the picture above two podiums stand side by side. While the current reader read, the next reader up would head to the podium about a minute before it was his or her time to read. This made the transition from reader to reader go very smoothly. Readers read primarily in English and also in Greek, Arabic, German, French, Italian, and ASL.

If you’ve read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, you know it’s full of some pretty tough dialect, which we all stumbled through as best we could. This was a low-key, yet powerful event. It was both heart-warming to see so many types of people come together to read from such an important novel and heart-wrenching to revisit a painful story, the racist elements of which we’re still struggling with today. That is what makes Stowe’s writing so powerful 164 years after it was published.

Abe Lincoln in the audience. Image captured from live-stream video.

I watched some of the live-stream video this morning and was surprised to see President Lincoln in the audience! He was the final reader of the marathon. (Portrayed by Howard Wright.) Tradition has it that 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.”

Have you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin? Visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s website to learn more about Stowe and the impact her novel had and continues to have.

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