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 2008 AND 2009 awards ceremonies may be viewed through the links on this page and through the Video Bar. The 2011 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Courthouse on Sunday, September 4th.
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 culture, 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 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.
Dr. Jerry Ward is Distinguished Professor of English and African American World Studies at Dillard University. Dr. Ward is widely recognized as one of the leading experts on Richard Wright. He is editor of The Richard Wright Encyclopedia, published by Greenwood Press; founding member of the Richard Wright Circle; and author of The Katrina Papers.
Returning juror Toby A Graham is Director of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia and Director of the University’s Collaborative Digitization Program, which partners with libraries, archives, and other institutions to provide online access to key collections on Georgia history and life. He works to provide a seamless digital library on the state's history and culture. He also serves as Co-Director and Principal Investigator for the Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative, providing Web-based access to historical news film and related primary sources on the Civil Rights Movement from institutions across the United States. Toby leads digital production for Georgia HomePLACE, an innovative project which strives enhance access to local and family history resources in Georgia. He is author of A Right to Read: Segregation and Civil Rights in Alabama’s Public Libraries, 1900-1965.
David Ingebretsen, former Director of the ACLU of Mississippi, has served as proprietor Mississippi’s leading independent bookstores, including Yellow Dog Books in Madison and Union Street Books in Canton.
James Taylor, our newest juror, manages the Atlanta Fulton Public Library’s Library Express and also hosts the System’s Writers in Focus.