Hank Klibanoff, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in history for The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation, is the featured speaker for the celebration of 50 Years of the Lillian Smith Book Awards Sept. 25 at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Klibanoff is currently a professor in the creative writing/non-fiction program at Emory University; director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory; and the creator and narrator of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast available on https://apple.co/2HqAkH3. Klibanoff's topic will be “Courage, Cowardice and, Now, Contrition."
The program will begin at 6:30 pm, followed by a reception.
The Southern Regional Council established the Lillian Smith award shortly after Smith's death in 1966. Internationally acclaimed as author of the controversial novel, Strange Fruit (1944), Lillian Smith was the most liberal and outspoken of white, mid-twentieth century Southern writers on issues of social and racial injustice. When other Southern liberals were charting a cautious course on racial change, Smith boldly and persistently called for an end to segregation. For such boldness, she was often scorned by more moderate southerners, threatened by arsonists, and denied the critical attention she deserved as a writer. Yet she continued to write and speak for improved human relations and social justice throughout her life. In 2004, the University of Georgia Libraries joined as a partner in sponsoring the awards. Today, the Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College are also partners.
The 2018 Lillian Smith Book Awards will be presented Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the Decatur Library to James Forman Jr., Yale law professor, and Nancy MacLean, history professor at Duke University.
Forman’s Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America examines how mass incarceration, which affects people of color disproportionately, stems from the war on crime that began in the 1970s and was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America has roiled the far right with its look at the history behind the movement whose goal is to constrict the function of democratic governance.