Can Man Live Without God
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A travelogue, a history, a quest, a warning and a call for a reckoning that the history of slavery is the history of our country, central and defining to who we we were and who we are, individually and collectively. In powerfully lyrical prose, Clint Smith challenges us to really learn our history, listen to our legacies, understand the recollections that “remain in the marrow of our bones,” that travel through time and generations. A tour de force that will keep you engaged long past the last page “We need this book.” â€”Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to be an Anti-Racist The Atlantic staff writer and poet Clint Smith's revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave owning nation Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarksâ€”those that are honest about the past and those that are notâ€”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 plantationâ€“turnedâ€“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 viewâ€”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.
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.
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.
Author's Note xiii “The whole city is a memorial to slavery”-Prologue 3
“There's a difference between history and nostalgia”-Monticello Plantation 8
“An open book, up under the sky”-The Whitney Plantation 52
“I can't change what happened here”-Angola Prison 85
“I don't know if it's true or not, but I like it”-Blandford Cemetery 118
“Our Independence Day”-Galveston Island 173
“We were the good guys, right?”-New York City 207
“One slave is too much”-GorÃ©e Island 239
“I lived it”-Epilogue 270
About This Project 291