Book review of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith


In a final chapter, Smith travels to Senegal’s Gorée Island, well known as a place of departure for Africans’ passage into slavery. It turns, out, however, that Gorée’s prominence in the slave trade may be overstated. People did depart from there into slavery, but probably not the millions that have been reported. Smith comes to understand Gorée as a symbol. With gaps in our understanding of slavery, historian Ana Lucia Araujo tells him, you need to fill them in “with something.”



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