Reading For The Common Good

We have chosen selections from two works by New York Times best selling author Clint Smith for our RFCG program for the fall. Chapters from his prose work, “How the Word is Passed, A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” and poems from “Counting Descent” are recommended to be read together, or choose one or the other. Members of SFHE can form a reading group and SFHE will provide the books. Contact the office at to request copies.

This compelling #1 New York Times bestseller examines the legacy of slavery in America—and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives.
Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

Clint Smith’s debut poetry collection, Counting Descent, is a coming of age story that seeks to complicate our conception of lineage and tradition.

“Do you know what it means for your existence to be defined by someone else’s intentions?”

Smith explores the cognitive dissonance that results from belonging to a community that unapologetically celebrates black humanity while living in a world that often renders blackness a caricature of fear. His poems move fluidly across personal and political histories, all the while reflecting on the social construction of our lived experiences. Smith brings the reader on a powerful journey forcing us to reflect on all that we learn growing up, and all that we seek to unlearn moving forward.