The National Center for Civil and Human Rights hosts the 50th anniversary celebration of this important award, featuring a guest lecture and book talk by Emory professor and 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winner, Hank Klibanoff.
The Lillian Smith Book Awards were established by the Southern Regional Council in 1968, following the death of Lillian Smith in 1966. A white Southerner and author of 1944’s Strange Fruit, Smith was among the most outspoken 20th century writers on the topic of racial injustice. In her honor, the award is given annually to authors who continue this legacy, using literature and creative writing as tools to bring awareness to social justice issues, particularly those that present honest representations of the South, its people, its problems, and its promise.
The discussion will center on Smith’s legacy and Klibanoff’s award-winning book, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation. As described by the Pulitzer organization, The Race Beat is “the story of how America awakened to its race problem, of how a nation that longed for unity after World War II came instead to see, hear, and learn about the shocking indignities and injustices of racial segregation in the South–and the brutality used to enforce it” and, importantly, “how the nation’s press, after decades of ignoring the problem, came to recognize the importance of the civil rights struggle and turn it into the most significant domestic news event of the twentieth century.”