Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lillian Smith Book Award Ceremony 2012

Atlanta - Two exceptional books were recognized with the 2012 Lillian Smith Book Awards. These awards were established in 1968 by the Southern Regional Council (SRC) to recognize authors whose books represent outstanding achievements demonstrating through literary merit and moral vision an honest representation of the South, its people, its problems, and its promise.

This Forty-Fourth Anniversary Awards Ceremony was a partnership between SRC, the University of Georgia Libraries, and the Georgia Center for the Book. It was presented in connection with the Decatur Book Festival at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 2, 2012.
The 2012 Award Recipients were:

By Tomiko Brown-Nagin

"In this sweeping history of the Civil Rights movement in Atlanta–the South’s largest and most economically important city–from the 1940s through 1980, Tomiko Brown-Nagin shows that the movement featured a vast array of activists and many sophisticated approaches to activism. Long before 'black power' emerged and gave black dissent from the mainstream civil rights agenda a new name, African Americans in Atlanta debated the meaning of equality and the steps necessary to obtain social and economic justice.

"This groundbreaking book uncovers the activism of visionaries–both well-known legal figures and unsung citizens–from across the ideological spectrum who sought something different from, or more complicated than, 'integration.' Local activists often played leading roles in carrying out the integrationist agenda of the NAACP, but some also pursued goals that differed markedly from those of the venerable civil rights organization. Brown-Nagin discusses debates over politics, housing, public accommodations, and schools. She documents how the bruising battle over school desegregation in the 1970s, which featured opposing camps of African Americans, had its roots in the years before Brown v. Board of Education.

"Exploring the complex interplay between the local and national, between lawyers and communities, between elites and grassroots, and between middle-class and working-class African Americans, Courage to Dissent tells gripping stories about the long struggle for equality that speak to the nation’s current urban crisis. This remarkable book will transform our understanding of the Civil Rights era."

By John C. Inscoe

"Drawing on two decades of teaching a college-level course on southern history as viewed through autobiography and memoir, John C. Inscoe has crafted a series of essays exploring the southern experience as reflected in the life stories of those who lived it. Constantly attuned to the pedagogical value of these narratives, Inscoe argues that they offer exceptional means of teaching young people because the authors focus so fully on their confrontations—as children, adolescents, and young adults—with aspects of southern life that they found to be troublesome, perplexing, or challenging.

"Maya Angelou, Rick Bragg, Jimmy Carter, Bessie and Sadie Delany, Willie Morris, Pauli Murray, Lillian Smith, and Thomas Wolfe are among the more prominent of the many writers, both famous and obscure, upon whom Inscoe draws to construct a composite portrait of the South at its most complex and diverse. The power of place; struggles with racial, ethnic, and class identities; the strength and strains of family; educational opportunities both embraced and thwarted—all are themes that infuse the works in this most intimate and humanistic of historical genres.

"Full of powerful and poignant stories, anecdotes, and testimonials, Writing the South through the Self explores the emotional and psychological dimensions of what it has meant to be southern and offers us new ways of understanding the forces that have shaped southern identity in such multifaceted ways."

The Southern Regional Council (SRC) is an inter-racial organization 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.