Historical Marker Dedication: Lillian E. Smith

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2022

The Georgia Historical Society will dedicate a historical marker for Lillian E. Smith on April 20, 2022. The historical marker will be erected in Clayton, in Rabun County, Georgia. The dedication is a private event.


The historical marker reads:

Lillian E. Smith

Lillian Eugenia Smith was born in 1897 in Jasper, Florida, moving with her family to Clayton, Georgia, in 1915. After attending Piedmont College and Peabody Conservatory, she taught in China before returning to Clayton to work at Laurel Falls Camp, her family’s camp for girls. As camp director, she led discussions about controversial societal issues, particularly on gender and race. Smith openly challenged Jim Crow and provided a critical White voice on Southern race relations through her writings, including the novel Strange Fruit and memoir Killers of the Dream, and a literary magazine co-edited with her life partner Paula Snelling. Through her involvement with Civil Rights organizations, Smith became friends with Martin Luther King, Jr., who referenced Smith in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Smith died in 1966 and is buried at Laurel Falls Camp. 

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and
the Lillian E. Smith Center at Piedmont University