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Author Clint Smith to deliver One Book keynote lectures on Oct. 18

Clint Smith, a staff writer at The Atlantic who wrote the 2022-2023 One Book selection, “How the Word Is Passed, A Reckoning with The History of Slavery Across America,” will speak at two Northwestern events on Tuesday, October 18 in Chicago and Evanston.

Both events are free and open to the public, with registration here for the Chicago event and here for the Evanston event.

In “How the Word Is Passed,” Smith recounts his visits to prisons, cemeteries, former plantations and other sites as part of a broader project to elevate histories of slavery that have often been hidden in plain sight. Through conversations with people, he also seeks to understand the ways in which ordinary Americans are re-assessing and reckoning with the past.

Smith will speak first in a moderated discussion on the Chicago campus from 12:15-1:15 pm at the Hughes Auditorium in Lurie Hall, 303 E. Superior Street, and again on the Evanston campus from 5-6 pm at the Mary B .Galvin Recital Hall, 70 Arts Circle Drive. Following the Evanston event, Smith will also participate in a book signing.

The events will each be unique discussions that address different aspects of the book and the questions it raises. Northwestern community members will be able to participate in a Q&A with Smith after both events.

Joining Smith as moderator will be professor Leslie Harris, who is the current One Book faculty chair and a historian of slavery. Harris served as an early editor for one of the chapters in “How the Word Is Passed,” and has said she is looking forward to seeing how the book spurs discussion at Northwestern.

“Clint Smith’s innovative work models a way for us to reflect on and engage with the varied legacies of racial histories in our Northwestern, Evanston and Chicago communities and beyond,” Harris said.

In addition to “How the Word Is Passed,” which was a #1 New York Times bestseller, Smith is the author of the poetry collection “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.

One Book One Northwestern, which invites the entire campus community to read and discuss one book together over the course of the academic year, is sponsored by the Office of the President and includes related films, lectures, field trips and other programming. More information about upcoming events including exhibitions and lectures can be found here. For questions, contact [email protected].

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