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Clint Smith


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Keynote Descriptions + Learning Goals

HOW THE WORD IS PASSED

Across the country are innumerable places that have direct ties to slavery—our schools, our streets, our prisons, our cemeteries, our cities—places that illustrate how some of this country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view. In this talk, Clint discusses how the history of slavery has shaped the contemporary landscape of inequality, and shares what he learned from trips to different historical sites throughout the country that are tied to slavery’s legacy. Informed by scholarship and brought alive by the stories of people living today, Smith outlines how these places reckon with—or fail to reckon with their relationship to slavery, and how it is our responsibility to collectively document, learn from, and account for this history.

  1. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of the history of slavery
  2. Participants will develop a better understanding of how the legacy of slavery and segregation have shaped the contemporary landscape of inequality
  3. Participants will learn how our U.S. education system has failed to adequately teach the way that a history of racist public policy shaped the unequal outcome we see today.


About Clint 

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He has previously received fellowships from New America, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation.

Previously, Clint taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland where, in 2013, he was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council. He currently teaches writing and literature in the D.C. Central Detention Facility.

Clint is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and a 2017 recipient of the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review. He was named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list as well as Ebony Magazine's 2017 Power 100 list. His two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America, collectively have been viewed more than 7 million times.

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. His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, was published by Write Bloody Publishing in 2016. It won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award, and was selected as the 2017 'One Book One New Orleans' book selection. Clint’s debut nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed, explores how different sites across the country reckon with, or fail to reckon with, their relationship to the history of slavery. It will be published by Little, Brown in 2021.

Clint received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University. Born and raised in New Orleans, he currently lives in Maryland with his wife and their two children.