Portland Magazine recently sent a writer to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to look into the ways African Americans have shaped Maine. “African Americans have contributed so much to the making of everything we think of as American, and always have been a driving part of the making of Maine,” writes Sarah Moore.
Moore points as an example to John Russwurm, a member of the Bowdoin class of 1826, who was the third African American ever to graduate from college. Russwarm started the first African American newspaper in the United States, in New York.
The article also describes Bowdoin’s recently restored Stowe House, on 63 Federal Street, where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe penned the 19-century bestseller several months after she harbored a runaway slave, John Andrew Jackson, in 1850, for one night.
Professor of Africana Studies and English Tess Chakkalakal, helped establish the house’s place on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Chakkalakal will teach her Uncle Tom’s Cabin seminar next spring. In the class, she encourages students “to read the novel in its historical context by visiting various sites in and around town that inspired the novel, as well as to regard its impact upon American literary and political history.” Read the magazine article here.