Clint Smith's empathy in "How the Word is Passed" stunned me. The books is extremely well organized, thoroughly researched, and well written. I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
Smith walks us through the Monticello Plantation, the Whitney Plantation, Angola Prison, Blandford Cemetery, Galveston Island, New York City, and Goree Island in Senegal. He delves into the history behind slavery, lacing it with personal stories and stories from the sites he visited.
"Slavery's an institution. In Jefferson's lifetime, it became a system. So what is this slave system? It is a system of exploitation, a system of inequality and exclusion, a system where people are owned as property and held down by physical and psychological force, a system being justified even by people who know slavery is morally wrong. By doing what? Denying the very humanity of those who are enslaved solely on the basis of the color of their skin." (11)
"The very first thing you want to do to an enslaved person is you want to strip them of their identity, and how do you do that? You take away their [given] African names and you replace them with new European names." (211)
It isn't possible to move forward and make progress unless we are willing to acknowledge where we have been. Banks actually allowed slaves to be used as collateral for loans, and Wall Street/New York City was the second largest slave market after Charleston. It wasn't just a "Southern" problem, and it's not just a "Black People" problem today.