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 - 2011 awards ceremonies may be viewed through by clicking on the images on this page or on the Video Bar. The 2012 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 2nd.
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.
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.
James Taylor manages the Atlanta Fulton Public Library’s Buckhead Branch and also hosts the System’s Writers in Focus, “a meet-the-author” television show produced by Fulton County Television (FGTV) and broadcast throughout metro Atlanta and Fulton County. He previously managed the Library Express Department, the Circulation Department, and the Ivan Allen Reference Department
Constance W. Curry is the author Silver Rights, which won the 1996 Lillian Smith Award for non-fiction. She also co-authored Mississippi Harmony with Ms. Winson Hudson, published fall 2002. Curry also collaborated in and edited Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (University of Georgia Press, 2000) and the book Aaron Henry: the Fire Ever Burning (University Press of Mississippi, 2000). More recently, she collaborated with Bob Zellner on The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, which received a Lillian Smith Book Award in 2009.