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Today is the second day of our Black Authors Series, and we’re featuring Julius Lester! Julius passed away on January 18 of this year, before we originally wrote this post, and we’re so grateful to have had him share his gift with us for as long as he did.
Julius Lester is a celebrated author whose accolades include a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award. He is also a National Book Award finalist, a National Book Critics Circle nominee, and a recipient of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. In addition to his award heavy writing career, Mr. Lester has distinguished himself as a civil rights activist, musician, photographer, radio talk-show host, and professor. For 32 years he taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and brought joy and a sense of thoughtfulness to those lives he touched.
He’s written a total of 31 books for children and young adults, and one of the ones that have stayed with me is Guardian. A tale that we see often in literature, and cinema, but is still happening in 2018. The fact that these stories continue to manifest themselves in ways that – at their true nature – are the same because of racism, the telling of them hasn’t changed the fact that they will continue to happen until people as a whole change for the better.
Mr. Lester penned so many great books to introduce children to the joy of diversity in literature, and the challenge of pushing back against the status quo after they consumed the words on the page.
He was no stranger to controversy, and converted to Judaism at the befuddlement of so many of those that knew him. He’s an author you should check out, and one that you should get to know if you’ve never enjoyed his work.