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Lerner, McGuire receive Lillian Smith Book Awards

Athens, Ga. – A book focusing on environmental health and one on sexualized racial violence were selected from 33 entries for the 2011 Lillian Smith Book Awards, sponsored by Southern Regional Council, the University of Georgia Libraries and the Georgia Center for the Book.

Began in 1968 and named for social critic and equal rights activist Lillian Smith, the awards are presented annually at the Decatur Book Festival. This year’s event will be Sept. 4 at 2:30 p.m. at the Old Courthouse on the Square, 101 East Court Square.

Steve Lerner, director of the Commonweal Research Institute, will be honored for Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States. Danielle L. McGuire, a history professor at Wayne State University, will be honored for At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance-a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.

Internationally acclaimed as author of the controversial novel Strange Fruit (1944), Smith was one of the most outspoken mid-20th century Southern writers on issues of social and racial injustice. The Lillian Smith Book Awards honor those authors who, through their writing, carry on Smith’s legacy of elucidating the condition of racial and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding.

After her death, her family donated the historic collection of her letters and manuscripts to the UGA Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Lerner has written about social justice topics for the past 30 years, including a series of books and articles on environmental justice, the proliferation of toxic chemicals, the impact of land use policies on low-income Americans, sustainable development, and cutting-edge green technologies.

His books include: Sacrifice Zones (MIT Press, 2010), Diamond: A Struggle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor (MIT Press, 2005) and Eco Pioneers: Practical Visionaries Solving Today’s Environmental Problems (MIT Press, 1997).

McGuire’s At the Dark End of the Street (Knopf, 2010) won the 2011 Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians. Her dissertation on sexualized racial violence and the African American freedom struggle received the 2008 Lerner Scott Prize for best dissertation in women’s history. Her essay, “It was Like We Were All Raped: Sexualized Violence, Community Mobilization and the African American Freedom Struggle,” published in the Journal of American History, won the A. Elizabeth Taylor Prize for best essay in Southern women’s history and was reprinted in the Best Essays in American History 2006.

McGuire is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and has appeared on Headline News (CNN), National Public Radio, BookTV (CSPAN) and dozens of local radio stations throughout the United States and Canada. Her essays have appeared on the Huffington Post, TheGrio.com and TheRoot.com. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit.

For more information, see the links below:
• Lillian Smith, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-463.
• Southern Regional Council, www.southerncouncil.org
• UGA Libraries, www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/
• Georgia Center for the Book, www.georgiacenterforthebook.org