Saturday, April 20, 2019

Forty Seven Books Nominated for 2019 Lillian Smith Book Awards

The Southern Regional Council (SRC) recently announced that forty seven books have been nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Awards for 2019 to be presented in Decatur, Georgia on September 1, 2019.

SRC 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. Since 2004 the awards have been presented by SRC in a partnership with the University of Georgia Libraries, whose Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses a historic collection of Lillian Smith's letters and manuscripts. The Georgia Center for the Book became a partner in 2007, when the awards ceremony first became part of the Decatur Book Festival.  Piedmont College, which operates the Lillian Smith Center, became a partner in 2015.

The award recipients for 2015 were Locking Up Our Own by James Foreman, Jr. and Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy McLean.

The 2019 nominated books are:

After the Education Wars: How Smart Schools Upend the Business of Reform, by Andrea Gabor, The New Press 

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, by Terrance Hayes, Penguin Random House

An American Marriage: A Novel, by Tayari Jones, Algonquin Books

Anaphora, by Kevin Goodan, Alice James Books

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, by Virginia Eubanks, St. Martin's Prcss

Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found, by Gilbert King, Riverhead Books

Catfish Dream: Ed Scott's Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta, by Julian Rankin, University of Georgia Press

City of a Million Dreams; A History of New Orleans at 300, by Jason Berry, University of North Carolina Press

Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to the Women Who Will Run the World, by Jennifer Palmieri, Grand Central Publishing

Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy, by Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts, The New Press

Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South, by Wayne A. Wiegand and Shirley A. Wiegand, LSU Press

DaVida, by Monica A. Hand, Alice James Books

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Super Power, by Brittney Cooper, St. Martin's Press

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm's Practice Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman, Chelsea Green Publishing

Fisherman's Blues: A West African Community at Sea, by Anna Badkhen, Riverhead Books

Foreign Policy on the Left, by Michael Walzer, Yale University Press

Free the Beaches: The Story of Ned Coll and the Battle for America's Most Exclusive Shoreline, by Andrew Kahrl, Yale University Press

Ghost, Like a Place, by Ian Haley Pollock, Alice James Books

Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools, by Rebecca Traister, Simon & Shuster

Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility and Innocence Lost, by Frye Gaillard, New South Books

Howard Zinn's Southern Diary: Sit-Ins, Civil Rights, and Black Women's Student Activism, by Robert Cohen, University of Georgia Press

In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southern Confronts His History, by Mitch Landrieu, Penguin Random House/Viking Press

Isako Isako, by Mia Ayumi Malhotra, Alice James Books

Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, by Francisco Cantu, Riverhead Books

Lost Black Scholar: Resurrecting Allison Davis in American Social Thought, by David A. Varel, The University of Georgia Press

Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, by Vanessa Siddle Walker, The New Press

Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race and Ambition in the New South, by Pam Kelley, the New Press

Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America, by Sharmila Sen, Penguin Random House

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Promise: A Novel, by Delray McKesson, Penquin Random House/Viking Press

Promise: A Novel, by Monrose Gwin, HarperCollins Publishers 

Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind, by Justin Driver, Pantheon Books

Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke, by Andrew Lawler, Doubleday/Penquin Random House

Sons of Achilles, by Nabila Lovelace, YesYes Books

Southernmost: A Novel, by Silas House, Algonquin Books

Strangers and Friends at the Welcome Table: Contemporary Christianities in the American South, by James Hudnut-Buemler, University of North Carolina Press

Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, by Anthony Ray Hinton, St. Martin's Press

Swimming Between Worlds, by Elaine Neil Orr, Berkley/Penguin Random House

Take You Wherever You Go, By Kenny Leon, Grand Central Publishing

There Will be No Miracles Here: A Memoir, by Case Gerald, Riverhead Books

Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, by Rebecca Todd Peters, Beacon Press

Vain Conversation: A Novel, by Anthony Grooms, University of South Carolina Press

Visible Empire, Hannah Pittard, Houghton Miflin Harcourt

We Face the Dawn: Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and the Legal Team that Dismantled Jim Crow, by Margaret Edds, University of Virginia Press

What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation about Race in America, by Michael Eric Dyson, St. Martins Press

White Dancing Elephants, Chaya Bhuvaeswar, Dzanc Books

Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss, Penguin Random House/Viking Press

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Minion K.C. Morrison Joins Jury for 2019 Lillian Smith Book Awards

The Southern Regional Council recently announced the newest juror for the 2019 Lillian Smith Book Awards.

Minion Kenneth Chauncey "KC" Morrison is currently Professor of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. He was previously Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Senior Associate in African American Studies at Mississippi State University. From 1989-2009 he was Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he also held the Frederick Middlebush Professorship. He served there as a Vice Provost from 1989 to 1997. Prior to Missouri, Morrison was at Syracuse University, where he served as the Chair of Afro-American Studies for five years. He has a BA. (cum laude) from Tougaloo College (1968), and MA (1969) and PhD (1977) in Political Science and African Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Morrison's research and publications have appeared in the fields of comparative and American politics and administration.  His publications include several books: Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator, (2015,); African Americans and Political Participation (2003); Black Political Mobilization, Leadership and Power (1987); Housing and Urban Poor in Africa (1982), edited with Peter Gutkind; and Ethnicity and Political Integration (1982).  Also many articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as Polity, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Publius, Comparative Politics, Political Science Quarterly, International Political Science Review, National Political Science Review, Politics and Religion, American Political Science Review, International Studies Perspectives, and Journal of Modern African Studies.​

This year's awards will be presented during the Decatur Book Festival on Sunday, September 1st.

Introducing the Jurors for the 2019 Lillian Smith Book Awards

The Southern Regional Council (SRC), founded in 1919 to combat racial injustice, established the Lillian Smith Book Awards in 1966 to recognize writing which extends the legacy of the outspoken writer who challenged all Americans on issues of social and racial justice.

Since 2004 the awards have been presented by SRC in a partnership with the University of Georgia Libraries, whose Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library houses a historic collection of Lillian Smith's letters and manuscripts. Since 2007 this partnership has also included Georgia Center for the Book, and the awards ceremony is now presented on the Sunday of the Labor Day Weekend as part of the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, Georgia. Since 2016, this partnership has included Piedmont College, which operates the Lillian Smith Center in Clayton, Georgia. Excerpts from the 2008 - 2016 awards ceremonies may be viewed through by clicking on the images on the right side of this page. The 2019 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 1st.

This year’s Lillian Smith jury is again chaired by Mary A. Twining, Emeritus Professor of English and Folklore at Clark Atlanta University.  Noted for her study of the Sea Island Communities of Georgia and South Carolina and their cultural ties to West African, her published work has included Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia, edited with Keith E. Baird (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press 1991); Names and Naming in the Sea Islands, a contribution to the Crucible of Carolina: Essays in the Development of Gullah Language and Culture, edited by Michael Montgomery and Louise Ferrell, University of Georgia Press, 1994; The New Nomads, Art, Life, and Lure of Migrant workers in New York State, published in The Journal of the New York Folklore Society 1987; and numerous contributions to the Journal of Black Studies.
James Taylor has managed the Atlanta Fulton Public Library’s Buckhead Branch and hosted the System’s Writers in Focus, “a meet-the-author” television show produced by Fulton County Television (FGTV) .  He previously managed the Library Express Department, the Circulation Department, and the Ivan Allen Reference Department.
Also rejoining the jury this year is Merryl Penson, Executive Director of Library Services for the Georgia Board of Regents.
Joining the jury this year is Minion K. C. Morrison, Professor of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware. Having previously served as Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Mississippi State University, Morrison's research and publications have appeared in the fields of comparative and American politics and administration.  His publications include several books: African Americans and Political Participation (2003); Black Political Mobilization, Leadership and Power (1987); Housing and Urban Poor in Africa (1982), edited with Peter Gutkind; and Ethnicity and Political Integration (1982). He received a Lillian Smith Book Award in 2016 for his book Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator.
E. Delores Stephens is a Professor of English at Morehouse College, where she teaches World Literature, Shakespeare, and British literature survey courses.  Her areas of scholarship and research include women's fiction, Caribbean literature, and biography.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh and the Unitary Executive Theory

By Leland Ware

Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, is currently a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. If confirmed he would have the second most conservative score on the bench next to Justice Clarence Thomas according to a measure that scores judges on a liberal-conservative spectrum. Kavanaugh would join John Roberts, Samuel Alito andNeil Gorsuch to form a solidly conservative majority.
An immediate concern is whether he would vote to uphold U.S. v. Nixon. In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Court rejected President Richard Nixon’s efforts to disobey a subpoena issued during the Watergate investigation. “Neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications…can sustain an absolute, unqualified presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances,” Judge Kavanaugh has stated a different interpretation of those events. In a 1999 interview, he argued that the landmark Watergate tapes case may have been “wrongly decided” due to the “tension of the time.”
In a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article Kavanaugh wrote that Congress should, by statute, provide that a sitting president could neither be sued, indicted, tried, investigated or even questioned by prosecutors while in office. “Having seen first-hand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it vital that the president be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible,” he wrote. “The country wants the president to be ‘one of us’ who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the president should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.”

In a recent case Kavanaugh was part of an appellate panel that found the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to be unconstitutional. Kavanaugh reasoned the Constitution gives all “executive” power to the president. Independent agencies such as the CFPB, he wrote, are “a headless fourth branch of the U.S. Government” that pose “a significant threat to individual liberty and to the constitutional system of separation of powers.”

Kavanaugh relied on Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Morrison v. Olson, the 1985 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the Independent Counsel Act. Scalia’s dissent in Morrison explained what is known as the “unitary executive theory,” which holds that the president has almost unchallenged powers over the executive branch and its functions.

George W. Bush relied on that theory to justify warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens' phone calls and emails, despite a statute banning the practice, and to override the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, with its absolute prohibition on "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” of prisoners such as “waterboarding” and torture. 

There is no reason to believe that, on issues ranging from health care to consumer and labor rights to the Second Amendment, Kavanaugh’s votes and opinions will be anything but conservative, much more so than Anthony Kennedy’s. It is easy to understand why Trump wants him on the Court.

Leland Ware is the Louis L. Redding Chair and Professor of Law at the University of Delaware.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Pulitzer-winner Hank Klibanoff headlines 50th Anniversary Celebration of Lillian Smith social justice book awards

ATHENS, GA -- Pulitzer-prize winner Hank Klibanoff will be the featured speaker Sept. 25 at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Lillian Smith Book Awards.

This celebration will commemorate a half-century tradition, currently a collaboration of the Southern Regional Council, the University of Georgia Libraries, Piedmont college, and the Georgia Center for the Book, of recognizing authors whose books represent outstanding achievements demonstrating through high literary merit and moral vision an honest representation of the South, its people, its problems, and its promise.

The program, open free to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. A reception will follow.

Klibanoff will speak on “Courage, Cowardice and, Now, Contrition,” which will draw on his book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation; the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases class Klibanoff leads at Emory University; and the podcast, Buried Truths, which he hosts and WABE produces.

 “The writings of Lillian Smith are as relevant today as they were more than 50 years ago when she was a surprising and surprisingly vocal champion of social justice and civil rights,” said Charles Johnson, chair of the Southern Regional Council, which began the annual book awards in 1968. “We are excited to have Mr. Klibanoff join us in this observance as his work ably continues ‘Miss Lil’s’ efforts to shine a light on injustice.”

The Race Beat won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and tells “the story of how America awakened to its race problem, of how a nation that longed for unity after World War II came instead to see, hear, and learn about the shocking indignities and injustices of racial segregation in the South--and the brutality used to enforce it.

“It is the story of how the nation's press, after decades of ignoring the problem, came to recognize the importance of the civil rights struggle and turn it into the most significant domestic news event of the 20th century,” according to the Pulitzer organization webpage.

Klibanoff is currently a professor in the creative writing/non-fiction program at Emory University. He directs the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory ( and is the creator and narrator of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast available on

“We can learn, interpret and give life — and historical context and meaning — to their important stories. The stories of who they were are the stories of who we are,” Klibanoff said of the Cold Cases Project.

“Buried Truths” is a six-episode podcast allowing viewers to experience “what Klibanoff’s students have — the chance to revisit Georgia’s sordid racial and judicial past and see all of the white men and women in the pages of history who sat on the sidelines, watching it all happen and doing nothing.

“Who were we as a people that we allowed this to happen? That’s the question we always have to ask ourselves,” says Klibanoff. “That’s always worth asking. Can I be a bystander on this, or do I need to engage?”

WRITER/CONTACT: Jean Cleveland,, 706.542.8079