Download How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America Audiobook

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America Audiobook, by Clint Smith
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Author: Clint Smith Narrator: Clint Smith Publisher: Little, Brown & Company Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2021 ISBN: 9781549123412
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Part inspired meditation, part revealing work of American history, How the Word Is Passed is poet and educator Clint Smith’s transcendent exploration of the places where the history of slavery has been preserved if not fully reckoned with

Beginning in his own hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks-those that are honest about the past and those that are not-that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation's collective history, and ourselves.

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving over 400 people on the premises. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola Prison in Louisiana, a former plantation named for the country from which most of its enslaved people arrived and which has since become one of the most gruesome maximum-security prisons in the world. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.

In a deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country's most essential stories are hidden in plain view-whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods—like downtown Manhattan—on which the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women and children has been deeply imprinted.

Informed by scholarship and brought alive by the story of people living today, Clint Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark work of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in understanding our country.


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Quotes & Awards

  • “A beautifully written, evocative, and timely meditation on the way slavery is commemorated in the United States.”

    Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “In reexamining neighborhoods, holidays and quotidian sites, Smith forces us to reconsider what we think we know about American history.”


  • “Humans enslaved Black people, and then too often enslaved history. But How the Word Is Passed frees history, frees humanity to reckon honestly with the legacy of slavery. We need this book.”

    Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “An essential consideration of how America’s past informs its present.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Time Magazine Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2021
  • A Pick of 2021's Most Anticipated Books
  • A Rumpus Pick of Most Anticipated Upcoming Books
  • A BuzzFeed Books Pick of Most Anticipated Books of 2021

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About the Author

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent. The book won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He is a speaker, podcaster, and peot whose work first came to national attention with his viral TED Talks, The Danger of Silence in 2014 and How to Raise a Black Son in America in 2015. He speaks to these same social issues on social media, specifically Twitter, where he has 245,000 followers with 40-60 million views each month. He is a weekly contributor to Crooked Media’s Pod Save the People, a graduate of Harvard’s interdisciplinary doctoral program in Culture, Institutions, and Society in the Graduate School of Education, and an award-winning poet. In recognition of his achievements, he was selected as one of Forbes’ 2018 “30 Under 30” list in media and Ebony Magazine’s 2017 Power 100 list.