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. Since 2016, this partnership has included Piedmont College, which operates the Lillian Smith Center in Clayton, 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 2018 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, 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, anestablished 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.