Sunday, March 26, 2017

Introducing the Jurors for the 2017 Lillian Smith Book Awards

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 - 2016 awards ceremonies may be viewed through by clicking on the images on the right side of this page. The 2017 awards ceremony will be held at the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Georgia on Sunday, September 3rd.

This year’s Lillian Smith jury is 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, her published work has included Sea Island Roots: African Presence in the Carolinas and Georgia, 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.

James Taylor has managed the Atlanta Fulton Public Library’s Buckhead Branch and hosted the System’s Writers in Focus, “a meet-the-author” television show produced by Fulton County Television (FGTV) .  He previously managed the Library Express Department, the Circulation Department, and the Ivan Allen Reference Department.

Also rejoining the jury this year is Merryl Penson, Executive Director of Library Services for the Georgia Board of Regents.

Earl Picard holds degrees in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University), where he specialized in comparative politics and the politics of developing countries. Since 1985 he has pursued a career in international development, serving stints with the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Zimbabwe (1985-88) and South Africa (1997-99). He has organized and managed training programs for professionals from the Philippines, Kazakistan, Usbekistan, Russia, Ukraine, Haiti, El Salvador, Burundi and Guinea. He has secured and managed USAID development assistance contracts in Nepal, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Egypt, Rwanda, South Africa and Benin and directed a technical assistance and training project in Zambia and a capacity building project in Ghana. He has worked as a consultant to a number of national and international organizations. Most recently, Picard has directed the Program Development and Management unit at Georgia State University.

E. Delores Stephens is a Professor of English at Morehouse College, where she teaches World Literature, Shakespeare, and British literature survey courses.  Her areas of scholarship and research include women's fiction, Caribbean literature, and biography.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Forty-Six Books Nominated for 2017 Lillian Smith Book Award

The Southern Regional Council (SRC) recently announced that forty-six books have been nominated for the Lillian Smith Book Awards for 2017 to be presented in Decatur, Georgia on September 3, 2017. 

SRC was 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.  Piedmont College, which operates the Lillian Smith Center, became a partner in 2015. 

The award recipients for 2016 were Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow by Cheryl Knott and Aaron Henry of Mississippi: Inside Agitator by Minion K.C. Morrison. 

The 2017 nominated books are:





American Happiness

Jacqueline Allen Trimble

NewSouth Books

Forsaken:  A Novel

NewSouth Books


Megan Volpert


Sibling Rivalry Press

The Courage of His Convictions:  A Novella


Rick Spier

Moon Donkey Press, LLC

Haylow:  A Novel

Gray Stewart

Livingston Press, University of West Alabama

The Distance to Home


Create Space



Dana Wildsmith

Ink Brush Press

A Piece of my Mind:  American Stories


John Noltner


The Cigar Factory:  A Novel of Charleston

Michele Moore (Author), Pat Conroy (Foreword)

University of South Carolina Press

Black Sheep Boy:  A Novel in Stories

Martin Pousson

Rare Bird Books


The Myth of Water:  Poems from the Life of Helen Keller  


Jeanie Thompson

The University of Alabama Press

The Making of a Racist:  A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade


Charles B. Dew

University of Virginia Press

The End of Days:  African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation


Matthew Harper

University of North Carolina Press

Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood

Wilma Dykeman

University of North Carolina Press


Crystal R. Sanders

University of North Carolina Press

J. Michael Butler

University of North Carolina Press
Transformation of American Culture:  Education and the South in the Age of Desegregation

LSU Press

Bad Girls at Samarcand:  Sexuality and Sterilization in a Southern Juvenile Reformatory


LSU Press

The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America


Daniel Connolly

St. Martin’s Press

They Can't Kill Us All:   Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement


Wesley Lowery

Little, Brown & Company

Honky Tonk Samurai:  A Hap and Leonard Novel


Joe R. Lansdale

Little, Brown & Company

Little, Brown & Company

Underground Airline

Ben H. Winters

Little, Brown & Company

Sing for Your Life:  A Story of Race, Music, and Family

Daniel Bergner

Little, Brown & Company

Alfred A. Knopf

The Summer That Melted Everything:  A Novel


Tiffany McDaniel

Macmillan, Imprint St. Martin’s Press

The Family Tree:  A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth


 Karen Branan

Atria Books / Simon & Schuster

Rapture:  Poems


Sjohnna McCray

Graywolf Press

Wolf Boys:  Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel


Dan Slater

Simon & Schuster

Hanging Bridge:  Racial Violence and America's Civil Rights Century


Jason Morgan Ward

Oxford University Press

Stamped from the Beginning:   The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America


Ibram X. Kendi


The Orphan Mother:  A Novel


Robert Hicks

Grand Central Publishing

Blood Brothers:  The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X


Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith

Basic Books

Boy Erased:  A Memoir

Garrard Conley

Riverhead Books

A Nation Without Borders:  The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910


Steven Hahn

Viking / Penguin Random House

White Trash:  The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America


Nancy Isenberg

Viking / Penguin Random House

A Pursued Justice:  Black Preaching from the Great Migration to Civil Rights



Kenyatta R.  Gilbert

Baylor University Press

Lynched:  The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror


Angela D. Sims

Baylor University Press

New Politics in the Old South:  Ernest F. Hollings in the Civil Rights Era


David T. Ballantyne

University of South Carolina Press

Vagrant Nation:  Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s


Risa Goluboff

Oxford University Press

University, Court, and Slave:  Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War

Alfred L. Brophy

Oxford University Press