During the 1940s, the late Lillian E. Smith was one of the first Georgia writers to shine a light on the South’s ingrained system of segregation. To promote the values and convictions that shaped Smith’s life and work, Piedmont College is conducting a one-day symposium, “Celebrating Lillian E. Smith,” at its Athens campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 26.
The symposium will feature presentations by Dr. Tanya Bennett, professor of English at University of North Georgia, Dr. Patricia Bell-Scott, professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science at the University of Georgia, Dr. Ben Railton, professor of English studies and coordinator of American studies at Fitchburg State University (Massachusetts), and Emily Pierce, a recent Lillian E. Smith Scholar at Piedmont College. The event will also include a screening and discussion of Hal and Henry Jacobs’ documentary Lillian Smith: Breaking the Silence.
In the foreword to the 1961 edition of Killers of the Dream, Smith wrote, “It is the apathy of white southerners that disturbs me; and may I add, this apathy is north and west our region too. There are so many people who are determined not to do wrong but equally determined not to do right.” Throughout her life and work, Smith called upon us to act, not to stand on the sidelines when we know what is happening is wrong.
Smith’s home in Clayton, Georgia is now an educational center operated by Piedmont College, and directed by Dr. Matthew Teutsch. The symposium commemorates the 75th anniversary of Smith’s first novel, Strange Fruit, and the 70th anniversary of Killers of the Dream. “Lillian Smith’s words reverberate through to the present,” said Teutsch. “Smith spoke out against racism, oppression, and social injustice. She unwaveringly advocated for the rights of all,”
Piedmont’s Athens campus is located at 595 Prince Avenue. Registration is $25. The registration fee includes a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. and lunch. For more information, visit http://piedmont.edu/symp.