NYU Reads: A Conversation with Clint Smith

Author Clint Smith

NYU Reads, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, brings the NYU community together around a common reading, chosen by a committee made up of faculty, student, and staff representatives. Through both large- and small-scale events, the discussion around this common reading begins during NYU Welcome and continues throughout the year.

About Clint Smith:

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the bestselling books, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery across America, which was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and a 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Nonfiction, and the NYT bestselling poetry collection Above Ground (2023). Smith is also the author of Counting Descent, which 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 has received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New America, the Emerson Collective, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His essays, poems, and scholarly writing have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, the Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere.

About How the Word Is Passed:

In How the Word Is Passed, author Clint Smith documents his travels to eight places in the United States (and one abroad)—to plantations, prisons, cemeteries, historical landmarks and cities, including New York City—to consider the gaps in our collective memory of American slavery. Through his reported conversations with fellow visitors to these spaces, Smith teases out the difference between history and nostalgia, between what happened and what we may have come to believe happened: the difference, for instance, between the perception that New York as a northern state opposed slavery, and the fact that by the mid-18th century, one in five people living in New York City was enslaved.

How the Word Is Passed is a powerful reminder of the importance of historical research and an honest consideration of how this research plays out directly in our own lives today. Sensitively, patiently and persistently, Smith asks and answers deeply challenging questions: How have we been taught to remember? Whom do we memorialize? Smith interrogates how we come to know what we know, models ways to question that knowledge, and shows readers how to be courageous enough to let new realizations in.

Accessing the Book:

  •  How can I get copies of How the Word Is Passed from NYU Libraries?
    NYU Libraries allows access to both e-book and physical copies of How the Word Is Passed. You can read the e-book on your desktop OR download the Adobe Digital Editions app for free to read on your desktop or mobile device.

    For e-loans or time-based downloads, creation of an account on Adobe Digital Editions will be required for first time use. Use your NYU Net-ID to log in and download this electronic resource.

  •  How can I get copies of How the Word Is Passed from the NYU Bookstore?
    You can purchase a paperback copy from the NYU Bookstore.

Sponsored by:

NYU Reads, in partnership with the Office of Global Inclusion (OGI)NYU Libraries, and the Office of the Provost along with School-based partners, and other offices across NYU.

*This event is free and open to the public.