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Clint Smith, ph.d.

Author of Counting Descent

A conversation about Racial Justice
The Forum is free and open to the public.
Advance registration is required.

Become a Sponsor
Contact Ally Wilson at 828-210-3444.
Learn more about sponsorship opportunities

About the Speaker

Clint Smith uses his experience as an award-winning teacher and poet to share personal stories of justice, community, and education. He illuminates how we can all find the courage to create change, overcome challenges, and unite ourselves through the power of the collective voice.

His two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America have been viewed more than seven million times. He was named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list as well as Ebony Magazine’s 2017 Power 100 list.

Smith is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, a Cave Canem Fellow, a Callaloo Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.

His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. His other writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Educational Review, and he has just joined The Atlantic as a staff writer.

Smith earned his Ph.D. in Education at Harvard University, a B.A. in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.

A Note About this Year’s Justice Forum

Back in February, when we asked Clint Smith to be the keynote speaker for this, our 10th Annual Justice Forum, we did not foresee how our communities and world would be transformed.

We are pleased to bring Clint’s voice, knowledge and perspective to Asheville and Western North Carolina as we seek to better understand the historical, political and sociological factors that have brought us to this moment of change for our country and our mountain communities.

Pisgah Legal Services hosts this annual event to call for justice, draw attention to the plight of people struggling to make ends meet in WNC and to continue the conversation about pressing local and national issues. Former speakers include: Jose Antonio Vargas, Matthew Desmond, Marian Wright Edelman, Peter Edelman and Sister Simone Campbell.

To be added to our e-newsletter for updates or for more information about the event, contact Michelle Spiegel at PLS: 828-210-3773.

Thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors!

Champions for Justice

Partners for Justice



Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community
William and Kennon Jamieson
Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty
TD Bank


Cindy and Tom Donahue
Jacquelyn and Craig Friedrich
McAngus, Goudelock & Courie
Kitty Schaller


Applied Solutions Group
Earth Equity Advisors
Pat Deck
Jean Dillon and John Ball
Dorothy and Daniel Foltz-Gray
Lori Gilcrist
Peter Hawes
North Carolina AIDS Action Network
Julie and Fred Northup