Clint Smith’s work has been an invaluable resource for my African American History class. His Crash Course YouTube series has served as a great tool for building background content knowledge before diving into documents and sources and coming to our own conclusions.
How The Word Is Passed is another excellent work of Smith’s that I used in my unit on slavery and agency. We used passages from the book as a basis for our in-class project on slave revolts, wherein enslaved people used various forms of resistance to fight back and claim power in an otherwise powerless social and economic construct. We also connected the information in the book to the Netflix documentary, 13th, to further explore Smith’s connection between slavery and the mass incarceration of African Americans even to this day.
I used many of the excepts and quotes that were selected in the Zinn Education Project’s discussion questions for the book as warm-ups for students to get them thinking about slavery not just as an isolated period of our history but as a system that continues to influence economic, political, and social conditions today.