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The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

Students invited to Wednesday Book Talk on ‘How the Word is Passed’ at Fant Memorial Library

Morgan Smith
“How the Word is Passed,” a novel by Clint Smith, is the focus of Book Talk hosted by Fant Memorial Library. Library Dean Amanda Clay Powers said the book was chosen because it “is accessible, beautifully written, thought-provoking, challenging and relevant for conversations happening in our communities right now.”

MSMS students are invited to join Fant Memorial Library’s third Book Talk at 4 p.m. Wednesday [Oct. 25], covering chapters four and five of “How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith.

The first Book Talk session covered the book’s prologue and first chapter in August. The meeting had an impressive turnout, with guests including Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin and several MSMS teachers. Many community members and local librarians also participated. They enjoyed an environment that encouraged the sharing of ideas about topics including America’s history with slavery, Thomas Jefferson’s convoluted relationship with Sally Hemmings and the struggle of balancing historical facts with blinding nostalgia. 

The second Book Talk session, which was held in late September, focused on chapters two and three, which tell the stories of the Whitney Plantation and Angola Prison. 

Fant Memorial Library Dean Amanda Clay Powers, who chose “How the World Is Passed” for the event, said it “is accessible, beautifully written, thought-provoking, challenging and relevant for conversations happening in our communities right now.”

“How the Word is Passed” tells the story of America’s history with slavery through digestible tidbits, such as the story of the Monticello Plantation and the Blandford Cemetery. Smith is a nationally recognized poet and author, and Powers said his poeticism leaks into his prose in “How the Word is Passed,” making it an enjoyable read despite its serious topics.

“Community is created around conversation,” Powers said. “We believe it’s the read we need in our community.” 

In the first community Book Talk session, MSMS senior Ava Grace Noe shared an anecdote about how the topic of slavery was actively discouraged in her history classes before MSMS. She said her previous Mississippi Studies class taught her “the Civil War was about land and had nothing to do with slavery.”

“It takes conversations like these. Everybody came in with a different perspective on what they learned from their own personal experience in high school,” Noe said. “It’s important to be having these conversations because they’re conversations that public school systems have been really scared to have for a long, long time. This gives Columbus access to those kinds of conversations.”

Noe also said the event made her feel heard and like what she was saying was valued by her peers, whether they be college students, professors or respected community members.

Charles Yarborough was one of the MSMS teachers who participated in the first Book Talk session. He said students should take full advantage of the community created by the continuing event.

“[It] is a really wonderful opportunity to speak with people of different generations, people from the university [Mississippi University for Women] community, the MSMS community and the Columbus community,” Yarborough said. “Anytime we can have those kinds of intersections of conversation, it’s a really great opportunity for students.” 

Powers said the tone of conversations held at the Book Talks is “respectful, supportive and challenging,” and even though difficult topics will be explored, interested attendees should not be scared away.

For students, copies of “How the Word is Passed” are available for no cost at Friendly City Books. The store is an event co-sponsor, along with MSMS, MUW, the City of Columbus and Columbus-Lowndes Public Library. Copies are also available at Fant Memorial Library and Yarborough’s room.

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Morgan Smith, Staff Writer
Morgan Smith is a junior from Corinth. She joined The Vision to share her opinions and contribute to MSMS’s diverse pool of thought. Aside from The Vision, she spends her time reading, knitting, baking and enjoying other grandma activities. She hopes to continue fostering her love for languages by expanding her knowledge of both English and Spanish.

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