Clint Smith '10 and the Common Read: Passing the Word to Davidson Students

Chris Marsicano and Clint Smith onstage

Davidson College Class of 2010 Classmates Chris Marsicano and Clint Smith

Bestselling author Clint Smith ’10 met with Davidson College’s newest students on Sunday to field questions and talk about his book, How the Word is Passed. Students read the book over the summer as the college’s annual Common Read selection.

The book, both critically acclaimed and a New York Times best seller, tells stories of how Black oppression and white supremacy in American history have led to a modern reckoning. He spent years visiting historical sites, from plantation to prison, memorials and monuments, listening to storytellers’ vastly differing takes, truths —and untruths--about American history. Much of it involved the whitewashing of slavery’s horrors.

Clint Smith signing a copy of his book

Clint Smith met students and signed books following the discussion.

Clint Smith signing books

“Learning at Davidson takes place in the late-night conversations with your roommate or in the dining hall with people who are different from you,” Fuji Lozada, acting dean of the faculty, and an anthropology professor told the new students. “This is how we deal with difficult truths.”

Clint Smith and Chris Marsicano

Chris Marsicano ’10, Smith’s classmate and now an assistant professor of educational studies at Davidson, introduced the author. It was an especially meaningful event. The two met at their Farewell Picnic during orientation week 16 years ago.

Marsicano described his dad as chatty, and “Clint’s mom also had the gift of gab.” The then-freshmen started talking, discovered they shared a residence hall, a passion for soccer, and the same birthday. Marsicano joked he came to realize he’d never be the most famous in his class—nor even the most famous with his birthday.

What advice would you give about storytelling? Marsicano asked.

“Be a kind empathic generous person,” Smith said, “and extend generosity to others in the way you hope they extend it to you.”


  • August 29, 2022