Activist-Author-Singer Julius Lester: 1939-2018

Sunday, 21 January 2018 04:08 AM Written by 

 Julius Lester cover


Julius Lester, who died Thursday at 78, left a reputation as social activist, author, teacher, photographer, storyteller and folk singer who left behind his own take on the African-American experience in the 20th Century. The Missouri-born graduate of Nashville's Fisk University came to New York in 1961 and began his multifaceted career. He authored children's books about race and spent 32 years teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Lester's viewpoints made him highly controversial at times, particularly involving anti-Semitism (he converted to Judaism in 1985).

His work gave him the stature of both social activist and tearned academic, albeit one with an seasoned entertainer's approach.

On Gossip: Some of his ornery good humor came through in this section from a lecture on storytelling, centering around the importance of gossip.

An excellent folk and blues singer-guitarist, his musical side gained prominence during the Folk Revival, a major part of his early life. A Civil Rights activist, his 1964 performances in the South were part of Freedom Summer Rights.

Lester mixed original material and traditional blues and gospel including the song he mentions in the video below: Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean"

2014: Lester on his musical career.

He made two noteworthy albums for the folk label Vanguard Records: Julius Lester (1965) and Departures (1967). Both reveal an expressive singer and formidable blues guitarist.

1965: From Julius Lester.

"Stagolee" His take on the traditional blues.

1967: FromDepartures.

"See How The Rain Falls"

1967: "Those Long Hot Summer Days"


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