Professors from Yale, Duke universities named Lillian Smith Book Award winners

James Forman Jr., Yale law professor, and Nancy MacLean, history professor at Duke University, are the 2018 recipients of the Lillian Smith Book Awards.

Forman’s Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America examines how mass incarceration, which disproportionately affects people of color, 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. Locking Up Our Own also won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

A former public defender, Forman uses research combined with that experience to look at how the crisis of mass incarceration in the U.S. was constructed incrementally over a 40-year period.

MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America looks at the history behind the libertarian movement to constrict the function of democratic governance.

MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke. Democracy in Chains also is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award.

Internationally acclaimed as author of the 1944 novel Strange Fruit, Lillian Smith was the most outspoken of white, mid-20th century Southern writers on issues of injustice. The Southern Regional Council established the award after her death in 1966. Today, the University of Georgia, the Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College join the SRC in presenting the awards.