Julius Lester

Look Out, Whitey! Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama, 1968

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Excerpt, p. 3

In June of 1966, James Meredith, the first Negro to graduate from the University of Mississippi, began what he called a "march against fear" through his native state. He said that he wanted "to tear down the fear that grips the Negroes in Mississippi and...encourage the 450,000 [as voters] in Mississippi."

With this announcement black people across the country began crossing Meredith's name from the list of those in the land of the living. Hustlers began checking whether they could take out insurance policies on his life, naming themselves as beneficiaries. Ministers looked through their files, searching for old sermons about martyrdom. In a few place florists hurriedly placed orders for funeral wreaths, to be sure they would have enough on hand. They weren't being cynical. They were black and they knew. Mr Meredith had announced his death.

On the second day of the march, surrounded by state troopers and FBI men, Meredith was shot. Fortunately, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnimerciful Lord God Almighty took pity on this man from Kosciusko, Mississippi, and selected the poorest-shooting white man in three counties for the job. Mr. Meredith was not murdered. He received superficial wounds and a telegram from [vice president] Hubert Humphrey.

Selected Works

History
Folk Tales
The Last Tales of Uncle Remus. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Out of print)
The last volume in the retellings of the Uncle Remus tales.
When the Beginning Began, illustrated by Emily Lisker, 1999. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
Traditional retellings and original stories around the creation story in Genesis
Fiction
Long Journey Home, 1972 (Dial Books For Young Readers)
Short stories based on true stories from Black history.
This Strange New Feeling, 1982 (Scholastic Paperbacks)
Three love stories based on true stories from slavery.
Do Lord Remember Me, 1984
A novel inspired by my father's life
And All Our Wounds Forgiven, 1994.
A novel about the civil rights movement and suggested by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Othello: A Novel, 1995 (Point)
A novelization of the Shakespeare play.
Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel, 2000. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A story about the young Moses growing up in ancient Egypt.
When Dad Killed Mom, 2001. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A novel about what happens to a brother and sister when their father murders their mother.
The Autobiography of God, 2004, (St. Martin's Press)
A novel that probes the question why evil can exist if God is omnisicient, omnipresent, and All-Good.
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, 2005, (Hyperion Books)
A novel in dialogue about the largest slave auction in American history.
Time's Memory 2006 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A novel about an nyama (spirit) that comes to the United States on a slave ship.
Cupid: A Novel, (Harcourt, January, 2007)
A retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche.
Poetry and Photography
Autobiography
Lovesong:Becoming A Jew, 1988 (Bullfinch Press)
Story of my spiritual odyssey to Judaism.
On Writing for Children and Other People, 2005 (Dial Books)
A literary memoir discussing the relationship between my life and my writing
Picture Book
John Henry. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
The first picture book collaboration with Jerry Pinkney
Shining, Illustrations by John Clapp, 2003 (Harcourt Books)
A fable about what a young girl learns from silence.
Non-Fiction
Let's Talk About Race. Illustrated by Karen Barbour 2005 (Harper Collins/Amistad)
A book in which I talk personally about race and how to think about it. Wonderful illustrations by Karen Barbour.