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. Excerpts from the previous awards ceremonies may be viewed through the links on this page and through the Video Bar. The 2015 awards ceremony will be held at the Decatur Branch of the Dekalb County Public Library on Sunday, September 6th.
The jury for this year's awards is again chaired by Mary A. Twining, emeritus professor of English and Folklore at Clark Atlanta University. Professor Twining previously served on the faculties of a variety of institutions including the University of Kentucky and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Professor Twining is noted for her study of the Sea Island Communities of Georgia and South Carolina, and their cultural ties to West African culture through language, cultural habits and spirituality. Her published work has included Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia, which she 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 Gulla 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.
She has also contributed music reviews to Southern Changes, the Journal of The Southern Regional Council.