How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America

Our school is constantly self-examining, looking at other perspectives, evolving, and making meaningful changes. This is part of what makes WEDS so unique. These same ideologies are what guide our process in better understanding and implementing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) principles.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to join Dr. Clint Smith and the leaders and faculty members within the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) in a community conversation about Dr. Clint Smith’s #1 New York Times best seller, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America. Dr. Clint’s Book discusses the intertwined history of slavery and the history of the United States. Clint visits nine notable locations around the country that either commemorate or obscure their link to the legacy of slavery, meeting the United States where it is when it comes to the topic of slave rememberance- which is wide-ranging. 

Dr. Smith led a discussion around the need to thoughtfully examine how we approach, uncover, acknowledge, and react to our nation’s complex history. As educators, we have a responsibility to present history honestly, through evidence-based facts about historical figures and events. We must constantly ask ourselves if we are leaning towards teaching the surface level, more idyllic parts of history versus engaging in the challenging and dynamic discussions around our nation’s history.

West End Day School is committed to providing its students with a holistic story of history, based in fact, while encouraging students to question who is telling the story and why they might be telling it in a certain way. We will provide our students with as many primary resources as possible, allowing them to formulate their own thoughts and decisions. Overall, this community conversation was another beneficial step towards a better understanding of how we can teach a more inclusive study of our country’s history and share the legacies that were central to our founding.