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University Press of Kentucky Honored With Lillian Smith Book Award

Cover detail of “John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights.”
“John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights,” written by author Brandon K. Winford, is the winner of the 2020 Lillian Smith Book Award.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 26, 2020) — University Press of Kentucky release “John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights,” written by author Brandon K. Winford, is the winner of the 2020 Lillian Smith Book Award.

The Lillian Smith Book Award is presented to a book representing the ideals of a racially just society. The book is part of University Press’ Civil Rights and the Struggle for Equality in the Twentieth Century series.

“I’m extremely thankful and honored to receive this award, especially given how central the work of the Southern Regional Council, and by extension that of Lillian Smith, has been to my research in the area of black business and civil rights in the South,” Winford said. “I am happy to join a long and distinguished list of past winners, many of whom are historians whose work continues to inform my own.”

The Lillian Smith Book Awards are sponsored by the Southern Regional Council, University of Georgia Libraries, DeKalb County Public Library, Georgia Center for the Book and Piedmont College.

Winford’s work focuses on John Hervey Wheeler — a banker, lawyer and visionary who was one of the civil rights movement’s most influential leaders — who played a vital role in the fight for racial and economic equality throughout North Carolina. Utilizing previously unexamined sources, this biography examines the black freedom struggle through the life of North Carolina's most influential black power broker.

“It is truly an honor for the University Press of Kentucky to be awarded the Lillian Smith award,” said Ashley Runyon, press director. “Brandon Winford’s critically acclaimed biography is a worthy addition to UPK’s Civil Rights and the Struggle for Equality in the Twentieth Century series, which illuminates our understanding of the black struggle for political, economic and social equality.”

Winford is a historian of the late-19th- and 20th-century United States and African American history with areas of specialization in civil rights and black business history. He is currently an assistant professor of history at the University of Tennessee.

The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that includes all of the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. The press’ editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at the University of Kentucky, which provides financial support toward operating and publishing expenses.​

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.