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Virtual Book Talk – How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America

Date(s) - Tuesday, July 27th
7:00 pm CDT - 8:00 pm CDT


dsc0801-version-2In the breadth of work created during the Great Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project interviewed formerly enslaved people, marking the first major collection of oral histories about slavery in America.

JMM will explore this intriguing collection and more, with author Clint Smith,  as he discusses his debut work of nonfiction How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, a revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave-owning nation. Smith will be in conversation with Reggie Jackson of Nurturing Diversity Partners, a Milwaukee-based organization that provides education, training, and consulting services to foster diversity, inclusion, and equity within institutions and communities.

Register to get access to the Zoom session.
This program is free and open to the public.
Please consider donating whatever amount you can to support the Museum’s mission.


Buy How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America from Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Online Store.

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on 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 more than four hundred people. 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, a former plantation–turned–maximum-security prison in Louisiana that is filled with Black men who work across the 18,000-acre land for virtually no pay. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers. 
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, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted. 
Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

About the Presenter
Clint Smith is staff writer at The Atlantic and 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. Clint has received fellowships from New America, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. His debut nonfiction book How the Word Is Passedwhich explores how different historical sites reckon with—or fail to reckon with—their relationship to the history of slavery, will be published by Little, Brown in 2021. He received his B.A. from Davidson College and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Sponsored by the Coalition for Jewish Learning, Jewish Community Relations Council, Marquette University Department of History and Tikkun Ha-Ir. In Partnership with Nurturing Diversity Partners. In connection with Brother, Can You Spare a Dime: Jewish Artists of the WPA, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, June 17 – September 5, 2021.

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