University of South Alabama Writer-in-Residence Frye Gaillard will receive the 2012 Clarence Cason Award in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Alabama during a March 1 event at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa.
In receiving the award named for Clarence Cason, who founded the UA department of journalism in 1928, Gaillard joins previous winners including Rick Bragg, Diane McWhorter, Howell Raines and E.O. Wilson.
“I'm deeply honored to win this award, named for a man who believed in the literary possibilities of non-fiction,” Gaillard said. “Some great friends and great writers have won this recognition in the past, and it feels really good to be in their company.”
Lauded for his books on the Civil Rights Movement, Mobile native Gaillard joined USA as a Writer-in-Residence in the history and English departments in 2005. Through his course “History and Literature of the Civil Rights South,” Gaillard shares his vast knowledge of the South and its history with USA undergraduates.
“Frye is a master of nonfiction prose and a delightful classroom teacher,” said USA Department of English Chair Dr. Steven Trout. “And, best of all, he is not an academic. Through him, our students learn how to think about research and writing in a way that transcends academia. The Departments of English and history are honored to have him with us at USA.”
“Frye Gaillard is richly deserving of the Clarence Cason award,” said Dr. Clarence Mohr, chair of the USA department of history. “As a journalist, writer, and historian he has helped southerners come to grips with a past that many would prefer to ignore. His books on school desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, the history of Habitat for Humanity, and the justly acclaimed Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America bring history alive for an audience beyond the academic world. We are proud to have Frye as a colleague, and we congratulate him on the recognition he has received.”
A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Gaillard began his career as a reporter for daily newspapers in the late 1960s, writing about the Civil Rights Movement as it unfolded across the South. As a reporter, and later editor for The Charlotte Observer, he covered the integration of that North Carolina city's schools by busing, Elvis Presley's funeral, former President Jimmy Carter, and the Praise the Lord network led by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Since 1990, Gaillard has been a writer, author and editor for newspapers and books. He also was the founding editor of the Novello Festival Press in Charlotte, a national award-winning literary publishing company.
In 2000, Gaillard began a three-year research and writing project about the Civil Rights Movement that led to his book Cradle of Freedom. The book won the 2005 Lillian Smith Award given by the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta. Previous winners include such luminaries as Alex Haley, Pat Conroy and Eudora Welty.
Gaillard has also received the NAACP Humanitarian Award and awards from the Alabama Library Association, the Southeastern Library Association and the American Library Association.
During interviews for Cradle of Freedom, Gaillard said he reexamined his home state and realized it was coming to terms with the racial divisions of its past.
“It was a wonderful reintroduction to Alabama for me,” he said. “I saw how Alabamians were embracing their history.”
Some of Gaillard’s recent nonfiction books include, Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail: An Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom, (2010) and In the Path of the Storms: Bayou La Batre, Coden and the Alabama Coast (2008, 2011). Both books were published by the University of Alabama press.
He has also written a fiction book, a children’s book and co-written multiple songs.