Clint Smith's book How the Word is Passed was reviewed in the Washington Post.
“How the Word Is Passed” recounts Smith’s visits to historical sites in America and West Africa to interrogate how slavery and its deleterious aftermath are taught. Smith interviews White and Black tour guides on how they educated themselves about the sites where they work. He also interviews members of the public on their reactions to new information presented on the tours.
Smith grounds his work in scholarship, citing primary sources such as letters and speeches, a wide range of historians, and the indispensable oral histories of former enslaved people recorded by the Federal Writers’ Project (part of the New Deal). The result is an eminently readable, thought-provoking volume, with a clear message to separate nostalgic fantasy and false narratives from history.
Why are these points still at issue? Smith forces readers to face uncomfortable truths about America. Violence against Black people is not only core to our founding but the engine that drove the young country’s economic growth.