The LES Center celebrates the life of a fine writer and civil rights activist. Through its administration of the Center, Piedmont University is privileged to introduce to current and future generations the values and convictions that shaped the life and work of a great humanitarian and that are continuing to be instilled in the hearts and minds of its students. The Center provides an environment for learning through critical and creative dialogue, where all visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in discovery, analysis, and communication. All activities at the Center uphold the principles of diversity by encouraging empathy, innovative thought, and responsibility.
The LES Center supports the Piedmont University curriculum on multiple levels and across disciplines. Current and future activities for faculty and students include:
- Site visits for freshman orientation classes
- Field trips or multiple-day excursions associated with on-campus classes
- Independent studies
- Workshops in creative writing, nature writing, photography, drawing, painting, etc.
- Interaction with guest writers and scholars
- Outdoor laboratory for science and environmental studies
- Location for focus-group activities
P-12 Professional Development Institute: “The Civil Rights Movement and the Nine-Word Problem”
As she prepared to close Laurel Fall Camp for Girls, a camp she ran from 1925–1948, Lillian Smith wrote, “I hope that the idea of Laurel Falls will not die. I want to believe that we have started a chain reaction of dreams that will go on touching child after child in our South.” The Lillian E. Smith Center’s programs, specifically its annual P-12 professional development program for regional educators, continues Smith’s goal of starting that chain reaction that will impact children and communities not just in the South by nationally and globally. Last year, we hosted our first institute, “The Civil Rights Movement in Northeast Georgia,” and this year, we are preparing to host our second annual institute, “The Civil Rights Movement and the Nine-Word Problem.”
During the week-long institute, participants will have sessions with Dr. Rev. Benjamin Boswell, Dr. Keri Leigh Merritt, and Dr. Jennifer Morrison, among environmental science activities with faculty from Piedmont University. They will explore the Civil Rights Movement beyond what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the nine-word problem” of confining the movement to “Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream.” Participants will do this by looking at works by Lillian Smith, Pauli Murray, Ernest Gaines, and Martin Luther King, Jr. While the institute cannot provide an all-encompassing view of the movement, stretching beyond the bounds of 1954–1968, it will provide participants with materials to bring back to their classrooms that adhere to state educational standards.
- Deadline for applications, May 1, 2023;
- Open to any P-12 educator in Georgia;
- Takes place June 12–16, 2023;
- Participants will receive professional development hours;
- Participants will receive a $200 honorarium;
- Participants will receive complimentary copies of the books and texts for the program;
- Participants will receive complimentary housing in the LES Center’s bunkhouses;
- The Lillian E. Smith Reader, eds. Rose Gladney and Lisa Hodgens
- Gaines, Ernest. Bloodline.
- Selections from Pauli Murray
- Selections from Martin Luther King, Jr.
Applications will consist of a CV and a brief statement of purpose (500–1,000 words) describing why you are interested in the program. Please email these to email@example.com.
Participants will be notified of acceptance by May 15, 2023.
LES Center Virtual Book Club
For the past few years, we have hosted the LES Virtual Book Club to Smith's work and the works of others creators. We have read texts such as Lillian Smith's Killers of the Dream, Clint Smith's How the Word is Passed, David Walker and Marcus Kwame Anderson's The Black Panther Party, and much more. With all of these works, we aim to open discussions and to highlights the important insights of Smith and others in our current moment.
For the Fall 2022 book club, we will meet via Zoom at 7:00 est on October 20th and November 17th to discuss the readings. You will receive an email with the Zoom meeting information as the date approaches.
We look forward to meeting and discussing Smith's work with you.
- Oct. 20–Lillian Smith One Hour
- Nov. 17–Robert Jones, Jr. The Prophets
Traveling Workshop on Social Change
The Lillian E. Smith Center offers a workshop on social change that individuals and organizations may use in the form of a PowerPoint slide presentation. First presented for the Washington Gladden Society at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, this workshop is based on the Lillian E. Smith Symposium on Arts and Social Change, a biennial program that explores the impact of artistic expression on facing the challenges of inequality, injustice, racism, discrimination, and other social problems. The workshop uses videos, historic and modern photographs, and quotations from Lillian Smith's book, Our Faces Our Words, to encourage discussion about the vital role we all play in effecting social change. Access the workshop slide presentation.
Recreation and Public Access
The LES Center property is an ideal location for a whole host of recreational, social, and instructional activities for Piedmont University. The site can be used for weekend trips that include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, camping, team-building games, and more. Campus clubs and organizations can use the facilities for planning retreats, outdoor activities, or service projects. Administration, faculty, and staff can combine recreation and relaxation with meetings for special projects in a retreat-type atmosphere. Public access to the LES Center includes scheduled individual and group tours, book club meetings, retreats, and workshops. Rental fees apply for some activities. There is no admission fee for tours, but donations are always welcome and greatly appreciated. For more information, call us at 706-894-4204.
Southern Literary Trail
The LES Center is an inaugural member of the Southern Literary Trail, a consortium of literary landmarks devoted to twentieth-century fiction writers and playwrights from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. “Trailfest” is a series of public programs coordinated by the organization at over two dozen sites across the three states every other year, spanning a three-month period in the spring. The LES Center has been included each year since the festival began in 2007. For more information,visit the Southern Literary Trail website.
The LES Center also sponsors the Lillian E. Smith Writer-in-Service Award which includes a two-week residency at the Center, a $500 honorarium, and a $500 travel allowance. The Award is open to U.S. residents working to advance writing through public service careers or volunteer work. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, arts education, literacy instruction, prison arts and education, English as a second language instruction, art-related therapies, etc. While the work of writing instructors and volunteers is vital to the community, the demands often limit personal writing time. This award provides an opportunity for those writers who, like Lillian E. Smith, recognize “the power of the arts to transform the lives of all human beings.”