Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin stands alongside Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Frederick Douglass's Narrative as an American classic. Any liberally educated person needs to know something about Eliza, Uncle Tom, Eva and the notorious Simon Legree.
This book should be made into a movie. As a book, the story has several strikes against it. The central character is not well known outside Milwaukee. The author, a 70-year-old nun, has written no other books. The cover is not sexy. And, heaven help us, it's a book about social justice and human rights—topics that market-driven book publishers rarely touch.
Before there was Barack Obama, the first black president, or Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee for president from a major party, there was Shirley Chisholm—the first black person and the first woman to run for president and the first African-American congresswoman. She announced her run for the presidency in 1972 with the slogan “Unbought and unbossed.” Although her candidacy was short-lived and she is largely forgotten, younger generations of African-American politicians consider her an icon. Chisholm also started the Congressional Black Caucus. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” was Chisholm’s philosophy. She died in 2005 at the age of 80 (BBC).