Lillian Smith

Lillian Smith (1897–1966), who lived for most of her life in the mountains of Clayton, Georgia, began her literary career writing for a journal—successively titled Pseudopodia (1936), the North Georgia Review (1937–1941), and South Today (1942–1945)—that she co-edited with her friend and companion Paula Snelling. In 1944 she gained nationwide fame and notoriety with the publication of her best-known book, Strange Fruit, whose frank language and sexual undercurrents led to the novel being banned in Boston for obscenity. Her other notable books include the novel Killers of the Dream (1949) and the nonfiction works The Journey (1954) and Now Is the Time (1955). A tireless campaigner for racial equality from as early as the 1930s, Smith was one of the first prominent white southerners to openly denounce segregation and to work actively against the entrenched world of Jim Crow. She died in Atlanta in 1966. (Inducted as a charter member in 2000)