Race, anti-semitism topic of talk at Bates

A noted author, educator and former civil rights activist will discuss Reflections on Racism and Anti-Semitism at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Julius Lester, professor of Judaic and Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, where he is also an adjunct faculty member in the English and history departments, wrote Lovesong: Becoming a Jew (Henry Holt and Company, 1988). The book chronicles his spiritual odyssey from boyhood as the son of an African-American Methodist minister through the civil rights movement to his eventual conversion to Judaism.

Since 1968, Lester has published 25 books of fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature and poetry. Among the awards these books have received are the Newbery Honor Medal, the Caldecott Medal, American Library Association Notable Book, The New York Times Outstanding Book, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. All Our Wounds Forgiven (Arcade, 1994), a novel based on the life of civil rights leader John Calvin Marshall, received a National Book Critics Circle Award nomination.

Lester has published more than 100 essays and reviews in national magazines and newspapers. He has also recorded two albums of original songs and hosted and produced a radio show on WBAI-FM in New York for eight years.

A veteran of the civil rights movement, his photographs of that struggle are included in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and are part of the permanent photographic collection at Howard University.

Lester has been awarded all four of the University of Massachusetts’ most prestigious faculty awards: the Distinguished Teacher’s Award; the Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship; Distinguished Faculty Lecturer; and recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal, the University of Massachusetts’ highest honor.

In 1986, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) selected him as the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year.

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