Winners of the 2015 Lillian Smith Book Awards will be honored Sept. 6 at the Decatur Book Festival.
The University of Georgia Libraries sponsors the awards, in partnership with the Southern Regional Council, the Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College, to honor the social justice activist and highly-acclaimed author of Strange Fruit and Killers of the Dream.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: The Southwest Georgia Freedom Struggle 1814-2014 by Lee Formwalt, and Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South by Andrew Maraniss were chosen from 42 books submitted for consideration.
The awards will be made at 2:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library.
Founder and editor of The Journal of Southwest Georgia History, Lee Formwalt has written numerous scholarly articles and essays, and Looking Back, Moving Forward on southwest Georgia history, focusing largely on the African American experience. From 1999 to 2009, he was executive director of the Organization of American Historians, the world’s largest professional association and learned society devoted to the study of United States history. In 2009, he returned to Albany, GA, to become executive director of the Albany Civil Rights Institute. In his two years there, he created a monthly lecture series, more than doubled institute admissions, and more than tripled the number of institute members. He retired in 2011 and lives in Bloomington, Indiana, where he is currently working on a memoir. He earned bachelor and doctoral degrees in history at The Catholic University of America and his master’s degree in history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He was professor of history at Albany (GA) State University for 22 years and served his last two years there as dean of the Graduate School. The book was published by the Albany Civil Rights Institute.
Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South by Maraniss is a New York Times bestseller in both the sports and civil rights categories. A partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Maraniss studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, earning the school’s Alexander Award for excellence in journalism. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. Maraniss is past president of the Nashville chapter of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and is an advisory board member of the Albert Pujols Family Foundation. He first wrote about Perry Wallace for a Black History course at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt University Press published the book.
UGA’s Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds Smith’s personal papers, letters and manuscripts. She was an inaugural member of the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, based at the Hargrett Library. Piedmont College is home to the Lillian E. Smith Center, which serves as an educational center and an artist retreat. The center is located on the property where Smith lived and worked in Clayton, Georgia. The Southern Regional Council was founded in 1919 to combat racial injustice in the South. SRC initiated the Lillian Smith Book Awards shortly after Smith’s death in 1966 to recognize authors whose writing extends the legacy of the outspoken writer, educator and social critic who challenged her fellow Southerners and all Americans on issues of social and racial justice. The Georgia Center for the Book’s mission is the support of libraries, literary programs and literature, particularly Georgia’s rich literary heritage.