Author Clint Smith discusses teaching slavery in M...

Author Clint Smith discusses teaching slavery in MTSU online event

Reflections on how the history of slavery in America is imparted in the classroom will form the substance of an upcoming MTSU webinar.

Clint Smith, a staff writer at The Atlantic magazine, will deliver a presentation on “The Educational System and the Teaching of Slavery” at 1 p.m. Monday, April 4, via Zoom.

For a connection to the webinar link, go to Viewers will be able to submit questions during a 20-minute Q and A after Smith’s remarks.

Dr. Shane McCoy, lecturer, English (MTSU photo)

Dr. Shane McCoy

Dr. Clint Smith, author of "How the Word Is Passed" (Photo submitted)

Dr. Clint Smith

Smith is the author of “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America,” which topped The New York Times bestseller list in June 2021 and won the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for general nonfiction.

“Smith’s work is important for students and faculty at MTSU (who are) committed to social justice,” said Dr. Shane McCoy, a lecturer in the Department of English and the event organizer. “His work intersects multiple disciplines, including education, English, history and political science.

“Moreover, his book and his journalism at The Atlantic distinguish him as a rising public intellectual. Perhaps most relevant for the wider MTSU community is Dr. Smith’s distinguished lecture in light of our current political climate and recent legislation. For instance, the recent Tennessee bill … will have a significant impact on how slavery is taught here and elsewhere.”

"How the Word Is Passed" book cover (Image submitted)

A quote from the book reads: “I think that history is the story of the past, using all the available facts, and that nostalgia is a fantasy about the past using no facts, and somewhere in between is memory, which is kind of this blend of history and a little bit of emotion…I mean, history is kind of about what you need to know…but nostalgia is what you want to hear.”

His collection of poems, “Counting Descent,” captured 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.

Smith’s writings have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine and the Harvard Educational Review, among other publications.

He is the host of the YouTube series “Crash Course in American History” and teaches writing and literature in the District of Columbia Central Detention Facility.

Smith earned his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College in Davidson, South Carolina, and his doctorate from Harvard University.

Along with the Department of English, this event is sponsored by MTSU’s Distinguished Lecture Fund and the Virginia Peck Trust Fund, Oaklands Mansion, MTSU’s College of Liberal Arts, College of EducationCollege of Behavioral and Health Sciences, the Department of History, the University Honors College, MT Engage, the General Education English Program and the Child Development and Family Studies Program.

For more information, contact McCoy at

— Gina K. Logue (