Clint Smith: The Danger Of Silence And Finding The Courage To Speak Up About Injustice

Clint Smith is a young poet, activist and educator from New Orleans, Louisiana.  He graduated from Davidson College with an English degree in 2010.  While at Davidson, he founded FreeWord, the school’s first slam poetry team.  Smith helped lead the team to a top ten finish at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.  Using his skills as a spoken word artist and poet, Smith spent time living in Soweto, South Africa working to educate youth there about HIV/AIDS by using soccer and spoken word to reach them.

Smith currently teaches high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  He is a doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University, and he was recently named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.  His work as a poet as earned him numerous awards including being a National Poetry Slam champion and an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist.  In addition to winning multiple competitions, he has also had his work published in several literary journals.

Smith has also also served as a cultural ambassador to Swaziland for the United Stated Department of State and conducted international workshops on cross-cultural understanding and youth empowerment while serving in that capacity.  In regards to how he views slam poetry as an important platform for discussing a myriad of important issues, Smith states, “While spoken word certainly doesn’t always have to be socially or politically oriented, it does provide a unique opportunity to tell the stories of those who are not given a voice.  It can also give insight into the human experience by contextualizing each of our lives relative to those around us.  It’s a dynamic artform that challenges our perceptions and continuously allows us to think outside of ourselves.”

In this TEDTalks podcast, Smith addresses the issue of silence, why people rarely pay as much attention to what a person does not say as what they do say and how to find the courage to speak out against ignorance and injustice.

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