Lillian Smith (1897-1966) was one of the first white southern authors to speak out against white supremacy and segregation.
A child of the South and a queer woman, she was seen as a traitor to the South for her stance on racial and gender equality. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr., she used her fame after writing a bestselling novel ("Strange Fruit") to denounce the toxic social conditions that repressed the lives and imaginations of both blacks and whites. With her lifelong partner Paula Snelling, she educated privileged white girls at her summer camp in north Georgia and tried to open their minds to a world of compassion and creativity.
Segregation amounted to "spiritual lynching" she said.
Before the Civil Rights Movement took off in the late 1950s, she was a voice of reason to white and black southerners afraid to speak out. Here was a southern woman who remained in the South and wasn't afraid to break the silence against the demagogues.
Tuesday, October 26 at 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Buttrick Hall, Film Room G-4
141 East College Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030