September 23, 2002
UCSC prof Paul Ortiz shares honor for book on
life under Jim Crow
By Jennifer McNulty
Joining the ranks of Roots author Alex Haley and Cold Mountain
author Charles Frazier, UCSC assistant professor Paul Ortiz has won
the 2002 Lillian Smith Book Award for his work on a book of oral histories
of blacks living in the segregated South.
|Paul Ortiz said the book award "is a
tribute to the African American elders who invited us into their
communities, their homes, and their lives."
Ortiz, an assistant professor of community studies, will accept the
award October 18 in Atlanta, Georgia, with the team of researchers who
contributed to Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell about
Life in the Segregated South (New York: New Press, 2001).
The book was accompanied by two CDs that contain excerpts of original
interviews conducted by Ortiz and others, and a major radio documentary
about the project that aired on National Public Radio.
"This is a great honor," said Ortiz, who called the collaborative
research and writing experience of producing the book an "amazing
"This is a tribute to the African American elders who invited
us into their communities, their homes, and their lives," he said.
"The power and pervasiveness of racial oppression runs far deeper
than water fountains and separate schools, and African Americans' resistance
was far broader than what's been taught."
The Lillian Smith Book Award is presented annually to recognize and
encourage outstanding writing about the American South. Lillian Smith
was the author of the controversial 1944 novel Strange Fruit,
a love story about a black woman and a white man. The awards, presented
by the Southern Regional Council, honor authors "who, through their
writing, carry on Smith's legacy of elucidating the condition of racial
and social inequity and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding."
Ortiz worked on the project as a graduate student, conducting dozens
of field interviews and serving as coeditor of the book. Sharing the
Lillian Smith Book Award with Ortiz are editors William Chafe, Raymond
Gavins, Robert Korstad, Robert Parrish, Jennifer Ritterhouse, Keisha
Roberts, and Nicole Waligora-Davis.
Established in 1919, the Southern Regional Council promotes racial
justice, democratic rights, and broad civic participation in the southern
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