2022–2023 Common Read: How the Word Is Passed
“The history of slavery is the history of the United States. It was not peripheral to our founding; it was central to it. It is not irrelevant to our contemporary society; it created it. This history is in our soil, it is in our policies, and it must, too, be in our memories.” Clint Smith.
America’s founding is still being debated today, but the fact that slavery is embedded in the story of America can be seen in our institutions and our society as a whole. Despite the fact that the legacy of slavery is constantly visible in America, the current divisiveness around the topic can blur our view of it. There has never been a complete acknowledgment and reckoning with slavery and racial discrimination in this country.
Reckoning with history is something that is difficult to do, especially when it is unclear where or how to start. Despite these challenges, there is always hope in a new generation to acknowledge the reality of the past and move forward knowing the truth and working to build a better future. This is why we have chosen How The Word is Passed by Clint Smith to be our next common text to allow us to work towards a reckoning with history!
In How The Word is Passed, Smith goes on a journey throughout the United States, providing readers with an understanding of how deeply slavery and its legacy continue to shape American life. Smith emphasizes how the truth can be difficult to reveal and pursue. In addition, Smith explores his own personal story and familial history.
Like many institutions with deep roots in the past, St. Edward’s must reckon with its own role in history. We have begun to take steps to acknowledge our role benefiting from land taken from Indigenous communities, and stealing people from their homes to be enslaved on land now owned by our campus. It is past time for our school and community to acknowledge our history. Moving forward in a just way is not an easy endeavor, but it is still one that students, faculty, and staff continue to strive for. Smith states, “At some point, it is no longer a question of whether we can learn this history but whether we have the collective will to reckon with it.’’
We welcome the incoming class of 2026 and encourage you to think critically about St. Edward’s role in history and the legacy of slavery in America, and to go out into the world and continue the fight for justice.
Michael Baquet III
St. Edward’s University, Class of 2023
How to Read the Common Text
One of the most important things we hope to do as a university is create a love of learning in our students, and the first part of that happens with the Freshman Seminar common text, a book we ask you all to read over the summer. Our committee of faculty, staff, and students has chosen How the Word Is Passed as this year’s common text. As you read the common text this summer, don't read as if it is a textbook. There's no need to memorize any facts. Instead, think about the issues How the Word Is Passed raises. Make notes in the margins, mark passages that stand out to you, and write down questions you have. That way you will be well prepared to write about the book in class this fall and to participate in discussions. You will also have opportunities outside of classes to think about the book and the common theme by attending screenings of documentaries, hearing lectures by experts, and going on field trips.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the common text or Freshman Seminar. And again, welcome to St. Edward's.
Associate Professor, English
Director of Freshman Seminar
Fall 2022 Common Theme Events
More info coming soon
Past Common Theme Events
Fall 2021 Events:
Sept 29 @ 6:00: Conversation with Stamped author, Jason Reynolds Presentation
Oct 19 @ 5pm Film Screening & Discussion of 13th
Nov 19 @ 5pm Film Screening & Discussion of In the Heights
Fall 2020 Events:
Thursday, Sept 17 @ 7:30 pm and Sunday, Sept 20 @ 2:00 pm: GIZMO
Play reading by Anthony Clavoe Directed by Sierra Sterling ’20
Thursday, Oct 8: Virtual Puzzle
Presented by Dr. Lisa Holleran, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice
Tuesday, Oct 20 @ 5pm : How Data Can Win (and Lose) the Presidential Election
Presentation and Q&A with Dr. David Thomason, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Oct 26 - Nov 1: A Strange Design: A Haunting Virtual Escape Room in the Age of Data, Justice, and COVID-19
Presented by Timothy Braun, Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Wednesday, Nov 4 @ 1pm: There is No Cloud, Just Someone Else’s Computer and Other Tales from an IT Guy
Spring 2020 Events:
Friday, February 28 @ 6:30pm: We Dream Concert
Monday, March 9 @ 7pm: Visiting Writer Series and Theater Arts present Jesus Valles
Fall 2019 Events:
Sept 12 @ 12:00: Citizenship 101
Lecture by David Thomason, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Sept 16 @ 6:00: What Is Citizenship? A Panel Discussion
September 24 @ 6pm Film Screening: Documented
Oct 2 @ 5:00: Trivia Night
October 10 @ 7pm: Speaker & Author Jose Antonio Vargas
Oct 31 @ 12:30: Reproducing Violence: Dehumanization & Incarceration of Immigrants Seeking Refuge in the US
Nov 6 @ 5:00: Careers in Advocacy/Reform
Nov 14-24 MMNT : Marisol
Nov. 19 @ 7:00: Migration, Detention and Activism in Central Texas
Film Screening and Discussion with Attorney Barbara Hines
Nov 20 @ 6:00: Film Screening: Children of Men
Past Common Themes
Book: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds
2020-2021: Data & Justice
Book: Hello World by Hannah Fry
Book: Dear America: Notes From an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas
Speaker: Jose Antonio Vargas
Book: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Speaker: Eli Kimaro
2017- 2018: Immigrant Voices
Book: Detained & Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire by Margaret Regan
Speaker: Erika Andiola
Book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Speaker: Bryan Stevenson
Trip: 28 students and three faculty members traveled to South Africa to explore justice, mercy and how these issues relate to race.
2014-2015: Hearts and Minds: Changing the Conversation about Mental Health
Book: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
Speaker: Susannah Cahalan
2013-2014: Expanding Human Rights
Book: Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Speaker: Jackson Katz
Trip: Three students built on their Common Theme trip to Bangladesh by continuing to stand up for human rights.
2012-2013: How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse: Dystopias and Sustainability
Book: World War Z by Max Brooks
Speaker: Max Brooks