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Black History Month

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and I remember Julius Lester

February marks the start of Black History Month, a federally recognized celebration of the contributions African Americans have made to this country and a time to reflect on the continued struggle for racial justice. If prompted to name a Black person that influenced me, it wouldn’t take me a half-second to respond. In fact, the late Julius Lester is probably the most unforgettable character I’ve ever met.

Julius was my Professor for two courses at the University of Massachusetts in 1981-82. I took his two courses, “History of the Civil Rights Movement,” and “Blacks and Jews: A Comparative Study of Oppression.” That was like taking an Art History class from Salvador Dali.

I was learning about the Civil Rights movement from someone that lived it, helped shape it. I was learning about oppression from a man that was born and raised in the south, the son of a Methodist minister and one that was also (at the time I was taking his classes) in the process of converting to Judaism.

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