The Southern Regional Council in conjunction with the University of Georgia Libraries recently named NewSouth author Bob Zellner a recipient of the 2009 Lillian Smith Book Award for his civil rights memoir The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement.
The Wrong Side of Murder Creek chronicles Zellner’s lifetime of civil rights activism, from his childhood as the son and grandson of Klansmen to field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In the early 1960s he joined ranks with the black students who were sitting-in, marching, fighting, and sometimes dying to challenge the southern “way of life” he had been raised on but rejected. Still involved in activism, Zellner currently lives and teaches in New York state.
Presented by the Southern Regional Council since 1968, and jointly with the University of Georgia Libraries since 2004, the Lillian Smith Book Awards honors those authors who, through their outstanding writing about the American South, carry on Smith’s legacy of elucidating the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding. Awards are presented for works of fiction and non-fiction, and previous winners include such celebrated novelists as Alice Walker, Pat Conroy, and Cormac McCarthy.
This year’s awards ceremony will be held on September 6, at 2:30 p.m. in Decatur, Georgia during the annual Decatur Book Festival.