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Go Big Read

Each year Madison Public Library partners with UW-Madison to extend the perennially popular Go Big Read program into the broader community.

Clint Smith’s “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view and how much we can gain from listening to them. The book is the 2022-23 Go Big Read selection.

About the book

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.



Book Availability

Book Club Kits for the 2022-23 UW-Madison Go Big Read selection, How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith, will be available to check out beginning Monday, August 22nd. Call 608-266-6300 to reserve a kit.

Individual copies of How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith in print, large print, audiobook, eBook, and eAudiobook can be requested using LINKCat.


There are no scheduled events at this time.

About the Author

Clint Smith by Carletta Girma

Clint Smith is a staff writer at The Atlantic and earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College and his doctorate in education from Harvard University. 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 other publications. Smith’s two TED Talks, “The Danger of Silence” and “How to Raise a Black Son in America,” collectively have been viewed more than 9 million times.

Smith teaches writing and literature in the D.C. Central Detention Facility and is also the host of the YouTube series ”Crash Course Black American History.” Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland.


This program was made possible in part by generous support from: