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In Memoriam: Remembering Julius Lester

When I contacted Julius Lester (1939–2018) in 2014 to ask if he would join us at my gallery to accept the seventh annual Reader to Reader Norton Juster Award for Devotion to Literacy, he said he was pleased to be celebrated and would get back to me after checking the football schedule. I wasn’t surprised. […]

Re-imagining the Possibilities

I am about to make a broad and sweeping generalization, but I believe it to be true: The failure of modern living is the failure of the imagination. The root meaning of the word imagine is “to picture to oneself.” In other words, when we imagine, we create an inner picture of something not visible […]

Julius Lester (1939-2018)

We were terribly saddened to hear of the death yesterday of Julius Lester at age seventy-eight, author of such touchstone books as To Be a Slave (illustrated by Tom Feelings), a Newbery Honor winner; Long Journey Home: Stories from Black History; When the Beginning Began: Stories About God, the Creatures, and Us (illustrated by Emily Lisker); […]

Trouble Spots: Troubling White People

Summer. 1954. I was fifteen. At that time, the television stations in Nashville, Tennessee, came on the air at four in the afternoon and stopped broadcasting at eleven. One channel began its broadcast day by pointing a camera into the alley behind the studio, a place known as “Art Lane Alley.” This was where artists […]

Stories Out of School: Silent Voices

One of the ironies of racial segregation was that it prevented  the best and the brightest in the black community from sharing their intelligence and creative gifts with the wider society. And so in the 1940s and 1950s many of those best and brightest black minds in America taught in public schools, where they poured […]

Julius Lester’s 1995 Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Author Award Speech for John Henry

It was late on an afternoon in late summer or early autumn of 1967. My editor at Dial Books, Joyce Johnson, and I had just finished going over the final revisions for my first book, Look Out, Whitey! Black Power’s Gon’ Get Your Mama!, which would be published the following spring. As I was getting […]