Sometimes, the more you try to ignore or deny something, the more it asserts itself in your psyche. In the collective American psyche, that buried issue is slavery. Poet, scholar, and Atlantic Monthly staff writer Clint Smith, in his revelatory book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, investigates how nine Civil War historic sites memorialize or distort their subject. Smith’s interviews, scholarship, and personal anecdotes about these sites poignantly and, at times, shockingly reveal the scars on the American psyche. Harvard historian Annette Gordon-Reed, whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hemingses of Monticello, blends a fascinating memoir of growing up in Texas with a history of slavery in that state in her latest, On Juneteenth. It turns out that slaveholding was central to the economy of the state best known for cowboys and BBQ. Join us for a rare opportunity to see these two stellar scholars together for an exploration of what has been buried for far too long. Moderated by WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti. Sponsored by the Krupp Family Foundation.
The Enduring Legacy of Slavery
Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University. Author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, she lives in New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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 has received fellowships from New America, the Emerson Collective, 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. Born and raised in New Orleans, he received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University. The June 2021 release How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, his first major nonfiction work, topped the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.
Meghna Chakrabarti is a journalist, radio producer, and host of NPR’s On Point and the Modern Love podcast. In the past Chakrabarti hosted Radio Boston and was the primary fill-in host for Here and Now. She has received awards in reporting from the Associated Press and the Radio Television News Directors Association, and her WBUR team won the 2016 award for General Excellence in Radio/Audio from the Asian American Journalists Association.