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Lillian Smith (Author)
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    (December 12, 1897-September 28, 1966)
    Born in Jasper, Florida
    Author and educator
    Best known for the novel ‘Strange Fruit’ (1944)
    Also wrote ‘Killers of the Dream’ (1949), ‘The Journey’ (1954), ‘Now Is The Time’ (1955) and ‘Memory of a Large Christmas’ (1962)
    Co-founder of and contributor to the literary magazine ‘South Today’
    Director of the Laurel Falls Camp for Girls
    Namesake for the Lillian Smith Book Award presented by the Southern Regional Council and University of Georgia
    It took witnessing prejudice and oppression while teaching music in China to open her eyes to prejudice and oppression in her native South.
    She denied that ‘Strange Fruit’ was named after the famed Billie Holiday song.
    She complained that critics failed to take her seriously as a writer, insisting she should be viewed as the equal of William Faulkner.
    She resigned from the Congress of Racial Equality, claiming its opposition to the Vietnam War was the result of Communist influence.
    She was one of the first white Southerners to openly denounce racial segregation and work against Jim Crow laws.
    ’Strange Fruit’ was banned from the US mails for depicting an interracial romance until Eleanor Roosevelt asked her husband to intervene with the Post Office on the book’s behalf.
    She was in a lifelong relationship with one of the Laurel Falls Camp counselors, Paula Snelling.
    Two white boys burned down her house (1955).
    James Baldwin wrote, ‘Lillian Smith is a very great, and heroic, and very lonely figure. She has paid a tremendous price for trying to do what she thinks is right.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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