Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Featured Lillian Smith Book Award Nominee: "Strong Inside"

Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South 

By Andrew Maraniss

The New York Times bestselling book Strong Inside is the untold story of Perry Wallace, who in 1966 enrolled at Vanderbilt University and became the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. Strong Inside is not just the story of a trailblazing athlete, but of civil rights, race in America, a campus in transition during the tumultuous 1960s, the mental toll of pioneering, decades of ostracism, and eventual reconciliation and healing.

This fast-paced, richly detailed and meticulously researched biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a more complicated, illuminating and rewarding story of sports pioneering than we’ve come to expect from the genre. First-time author Andrew Maraniss masterfully unfolds the unique life story of Wallace, the rare slam-dunking basketball star who was also a valedictorian, engineering double-major, law school graduate, and university professor. Wallace’s unusually insightful and honest introspection reveals his inner thoughts throughout his journey.

Wallace entered kindergarten the year that Brown v. Board of Education upended “separate but equal.” As a 12-year old, he snuck downtown to watch the sit-ins at Nashville’s lunch counters. In 1963, he entered high school a week after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. While in high school, he saw the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts, and his Pearl High basketball team won Tennessee’s first integrated state tournament. The world seemed to be opening at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt recruited him, Wallace courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the SEC. His experiences on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be nothing like he ever imagined.

On campus, he encountered the leading civil rights figures of the day, including Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Robert Kennedy – and he led Vanderbilt’s small group of black students to a meeting with the university chancellor to push for better treatment.

On the basketball court, he experienced an Ole Miss boycott and the rabid hate of the Mississippi State fans in Starkville. Following his freshman year, the NCAA instituted “the Lew Alcindor rule,” which deprived Wallace of his signature move, the slam dunk.

Despite this attempt to limit the influence of a rising tide of black stars, the final basket of Wallace’s college career was a cathartic and defiant dunk, and the story Wallace told to the Vanderbilt Human Relations Committee and later The Tennessean was not the simple story of a triumphant trailblazer that many people wanted to hear.  Yes, he had gone from hearing racial epithets when he appeared in his dormitory to being voted as the university’s most popular student, but, at the risk of being labeled “ungrateful,” he spoke truth to power in describing the daily slights and abuses he had overcome and what Martin Luther King had called “the agonizing loneliness of a pioneer.”

About the Author

A New York Times bestseller, Strong Inside is the first book by Andrew Maraniss. A partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in Nashville, Andrew studied history at Vanderbilt University as a recipient of the Fred Russell – Grantland Rice sportswriting scholarship, earning the school’s Alexander Award for excellence in journalism and graduating in 1992. He then worked for five years in Vanderbilt’s athletic department as the associate director of media relations, dealing primarily with the men’s basketball team. In 1998, he served as the media relations manager for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays during the team’s inaugural season, and then returned to Nashville to join MP&F. The son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, Andrew was born in Madison, Wis., grew up in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and now lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife Alison, and their two young children. Follow Andrew on Twitter @trublu24 and visit his website at andrewmaraniss.com.andrewmaraniss.com.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Presenting the Lillian Smith Book Award Jurors for 2015

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 2015 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 6th.

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 James Taylor manages the Returning juror 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


The jury for this year's awards again includes Dr. Marcy D. Johnson. A native of Savannah Georgia, Dr. Johnson served as the Chief Information Officer and Dean of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Bennett College for Women.

Dr. Johnson received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Colorado and earned a Master of Science in Education from Indiana University. She received a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Instructional Technology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 

Joining the jury this again year is Dr. Vicki CrawfordDr. Crawford received her Ph.D. degree from Emory University in the field of American Studies with a concentration in twentieth century African American history.Dr. Crawford has spent ten years as an academic administrator and has sought to enhance her administrative skills through participation in the American Council on Education’s National Leadership Forum for Women Administrators. Currently, she is Director of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection where she is developing campus-based programming in support of the Collection and creating opportunities for teaching, research and scholarship that promote the legacy of Dr. King.
Also joining the jury again this year is Merryl Penson, Executive Director of Library Services for the Georgia Board of Regents.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Forty-Two Books Nominated for 2015 Lillian Smith Book Award

The Southern Regional Council (SRC) recently announced that forty-two books have been nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Awards for 2015 to be presented in Decatur, Georgia on September 6, 2015.
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.

The award recipients for 2014 were We Shall Not be Moved by M.J. O'Brien and In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma by Bernard Lafayette.
The 2014 nominated books are:




Strong Inside:  Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South

Andrew Maraniss

Vanderbilt University Press

The Invitation

Clifton Taulbert

NewSouth Books

Dare We Speak of Hope

Searching for a Language of Life in Faith and Politics

Alan Aubrey Boesak

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Dear White Christians:  For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation

Jennifer Harvey

Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

They Don’t Kill Because They’re Hungry, They Kill Because They’re Full

Mark Bibbins

Copper Canyon Press

The New Testament

Jericho Brown

Copper Canyon Press

Looking Back, Moving Forward:  The Southwest Georgia Freedom Struggle, 1814-2014

Lee W. Formalt

Albany Civil Rights Institute and Georgia Humanities Council

Angels Make Their Hope Here:  A Novel

Breena Clarke

Little, Brown and Company

When Paris Went Dark:  The City of Light Under German Occupation 1940-1944

Ronald C. Rosbottom

Little, Brown and Company

Death of a King:  The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year

Tavis Smiley with David Ritz

Little, Brown and Company

Factory Man:  How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring , Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town

Beth Macy

Little, Brown and Company

Citizen:  An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine

Graywolf Press

Counting Teeth:  A Namibian Story

Peter Midgley

Wolsak and Wynn Publishers

Pageants, Parlors, & Pretty Women:  Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South

Blain Roberts

University of North Carolina Press

The Red Atlantic:  American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

Jace Weaver

University of North Carolina Press

The Indicted South:  Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness

Angie Maxwell

University of North Carolina Press

Baptized in PCBs:  Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

Ellen Griffith Spears

University of North Carolina Press

Captive Nation:  Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era

Dan Berger

University of North Carolina Press

A Southern Girl:  A Novel

John Warley

University of South Carolina Press

Blessed Experiences:  Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black

James E. Clyburn

University of South Carolina Press

The Spirit of an Activist:  The Life and Work of I. DeQuincey Newman

Edited by Sadye L. M. Logan

University of South Carolina Press

Tell the World You’re a Wildflower:  Stories

Jennifer Horne

University of Alabama Press

This Bright Light of Ours:  Stories from the 1965 Voting Rights Fight

Maria Gitin

University of Alabama Press

Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature

Trudier Harris

University of Alabama Press

 Down to the Crossroads:  Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear

Aram Goudsouzian

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

On Democracy’s Doorstep:  The Inside Story of How the Supreme Court Brought “One Person, One Vote” to the United States

J. Douglas Smith

Hill and Wang / Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Angels by the River:  A Memoir

James Gustave Speth

Chelsea Green Publishing

The Fog Machine:  A Novel

Susan Follett

Lucky Sky Press

The Half Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Edward E. Baptist

Basic Books


Cathy Linh Che

Alice James Books

Money Money Money

Water Water Water

Jane Mead

Alice James Books

Without Mercy:  The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South

David Beasley

St. Martin’s Press

Tomlinson Hill:  The Remarkable Story of Two Families Who Share the Tomlinson Name – One White, One Black

Chris Tomlinson

St. Martin’s Press / Thomas Dunne Books

An Unnecessary Woman:  A Novel

Rabih Alameddine

Grove Atlantic /  Grove Press

Untamed:  The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island

Will Harlan

Grove Atlantic /  Grove Press

An Untamed State

Roxane Gay

Grove Atlantic /  Black Cat

The Secret of Magic:  A Novel

Deborah Johnson

Penguin Random House

Redemption Songs:  Suing for Freedom before Dred Scott

Lea VanderVelde

Oxford University Press

Unbroken Circles for Schools:  Restoring Schools one Conflict at a Time

Ken Johnson

Southern Yellow Pine Publishing

Desire and Disaster in New Orleans:  Tourism, Race, and Historical Memory

Lynnell L. Thomas

Duke University Press

Penn Center:  A History Preserved

Orville Vernon Burton with Wilbur Cross

University of Georgia Press

Slavery and Freedom in Savannah

Leslie M. Harris and Daina Ramey Berry

University of Georgia Press