The Lillian Smith Book Awards will be presented Sept. 3 at 2:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Decatur Public Library, as part of the AJC Decatur Book Festival .
The Firebrand and the First Lady, a portrait of the friendship between the human rights activist Pauli Murray and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Vagrant Nation, an examination of constitutional changes and their effect on the social reform movements of the 1960s, are this year's winners.
Patricia Bell-Scott, University of Georgia professor emerita of women’s studies and human development and family science, contacted civil rights activist and trailblazer Pauline (Pauli) Murray to serve on the initial editorial board of SAGE: A Scholarly Journal on Women. A comment in Murray’s return letter – “you need to know some of the veterans of the battle whose shoulders you now stand on” – stayed with Bell-Scott, eventually leading to her devoting considerable time since her 2008 retirement to the dual biography which she began nearly two decades ago. “Her suggestion sounded like a call in many ways,” she said.
Risa Goluboff, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law, and professor of History, employed widely used vagrancy laws to show how legal change can fuel much broader social changes.
Goluboff's compelling account of those challenges rewrites the history of the civil rights, peace, gay rights, welfare rights, sexual, and cultural revolutions. As Goluboff links the human stories of those arrested to the great controversies of the time, she makes coherent an era that often seems chaotic.
Goluboff, the first woman dean of UVA Law, also powerfully demonstrates how ordinary people, with the help of lawyers and judges, can change the meaning of the Constitution.