Westmoreland Reads welcomes NYT’s Bestselling Author Clint Smith in a virtual visit

Author Clint SmithWestmoreland Reads welcomes New York Times Bestselling Author Clint Smith to Westmoreland County via a live virtual event set for Wednesday, March 20. The virtual visit is part of a year-long program that encouraged county residents to read Smith’s book How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America (Little, Brown and Company, 2021) and participate in a variety of community-hosted activities.

Community members are asked to register at https://bit.ly/WEST-READS-SMITH for the 7 p.m. online event in order to receive the Zoom link for the free presentation. Campus watch parties in Pitt-Greensburg’s Ferguson Theater and at the Pitt-Johnstown Murtha Center are also planned.

Smith and his book How the Word is Passed made it to the top of the New York Times book list, winning numerous prizes along the way: the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism, the Stowe Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and being selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2021.

Through the book, Smith leads the reader through a tour of monuments and landmarks that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping this nation’s collective history and its citizens. The journey includes Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Plantation in Virginia and the Whitney Plantation’s work in preserving the experience of the enslaved people who once sustained it. Smith explores the history of Angola, the former plantation-turned maximum security prison in Louisiana, and the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers. The stories are informed by scholarship and also share the story of people living today, providing reflection and insight that leads to a new understanding of the role that memory and history can play in making sense of the United States and how it has come to be.

Smith has received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New America, the Emerson Collective, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. 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 elsewhere. He is a former National Poetry Slam champion and a recipient of the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review.

“The goal of the Westmoreland Reads program is to encourage the Westmoreland County community to read and engage with a common read,” said Sheila Confer, EdD, director of Pitt-Greensburg’s Academic Village and founder of the Westmoreland Reads. “Individuals and organizations are invited to form formal and informal reading groups. The program continues throughout the year, and groups may form at any time.”

Two other events, part of the Historians on History series and sponsored by Westmoreland Reads and the Academic Village, will be held March 22 and March 29 in Pitt-Greensburg’s Frank A. Cassell Hall at 11:30 a.m.

Adam Cilli, PhD, assistant professor of history at Pitt-Greensburg, will discuss his research into Black Reformers and the Great Migration to Pittsburgh on March 22.

Jenifer Barclay, PhD, Associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo will speak about Disability and the History of American Slavery on March 29.

Publication Date

Monday, March 11, 2024 - 12:15