The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2021
Hardback: Little, Brown & Co., 2021
Buy Now: [ IndieBound ] [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ] [ Audible ]
In his first major work of nonfiction, How the Word is Passed, poet, scholar and Atlantic Magazine staff writer Clint Smith seeks out this troubling history to understand the stories America tells itself about who we are through what is remembered. The aegis of the book is this: Smith traveled “to eight places in the United States as well as one abroad to understand how each reckons with its relationship to the history of American slavery.”
As a former educator, with a grandmother who was an educator, Smith comes back to education as the way forward. There is a reason American slavers tried so hard to keep enslaved Blacks uneducated, making teaching an enslaved person to read or write a severe crime. There is a reason Texas tried to obfuscate slavery in textbooks, calling enslaved Africans “happy” and “workers.” There is a reason for the attacks on critical race theory, on anything that teaches the truth of slavery and white supremacy; on anything that connects past injustice to its perpetuation through contemporary social injustice. There is a reason this history is not taught. Education creates knowledge and understanding, which creates a drive for truth, justice, and social change. “But it happened, it really happened,” writes Smith. And without learning the actual history to understand why society is the way it is today, nothing will ever be made right.
- from the NPR review of this book by Hope Wabuke
[ READ the full review ]
*** WATCH an interview with Clint Smith about this book …
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior
Enter your email below to sign up for our weekly newsletter & download your FREE copy of this ebook!