The University of Georgia Libraries are now accepting nominations for the Lillian Smith Book Award, jointly sponsored with the Southern Regional Council, the DeKalb County Public Library/Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College. The deadline is March 16.
Internationally acclaimed as author of the controversial novel, Strange Fruit (1944), Lillian Smith was the most liberal and outspoken of white mid-twentieth century Southern writers on issues of social, and especially racial, injustice. When other Southern liberals such as Ralph McGill, Hodding Carter, Virginius Dabney, and Jonathan Daniels were charting a cautious course on racial change, Smith boldly and persistently called for an end to segregation. For such boldness, she was often scorned by more moderate southerners, threatened by arsonists, and denied the critical attention she deserved as a writer. Yet she continued to write and speak for improved human relations and social justice throughout her life. Smith co-edited a small literary magazine from 1936-45. Publishing and reviewing the literary work and opinions of black and white women and men, the magazine addressed a wide range of political, social, and economic issues and quickly achieved acclaim as a forum for liberal ideas in the region.
Books published in 2015 are eligible for this year’s award, which is given annually at the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend. The award honors those authors who, through their writing, carry on Smith’s legacy of elucidating the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding.
The Hargrett Library holds Smith’s personal papers, including personal correspondence, manuscripts, writings by and about her, files on various organizations she was interested in or involved with (many dealing with human rights), audiotapes containing interviews with and readings by Smith, speeches, financial records, photographs, and printed material. Part of the collection contains records relating to her involvement with the Laurel Falls Camp for Girls, which today is operated by Piedmont College as an educational center and artist retreat.
For more information: http://www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/lilliansmith/index.html