“Story is not something we tell; story is who we are.”
Doesn’t it feel like January is too soon for death? Really, stories end all the time.
While I never met Julius Lester, knowing him online gave me one of the most profound online experiences I’ve had. I’d had brief exchanges with him on his blog, but it was on Facebook that I got to know him better. As an established storyteller, Lester was quite comfortable sharing bits of his life that would lead us to deeper contemplation about our own lives. I don’t think he expected us to always agree with him, but to listen and think beyond the confines of our own mind. Such reasoning is something that we sorely need.
In early January, Lester explained that his breathing was getting to be too much. That was his last post. On 18 January, his daughter Lian took over the account stating that she was on the way to see her dad one last time. She asked those reading to breath for her dad so that all his children could make it home. She gave updates on her dad and her travel getting to him, sharing a very intimate passage.
She made it.
Lester passed away yesterday, days shy of his 79th birthday. He was surrounded by his family.
He leaves behind a body of work of over 50 titles. In addition to writing children’s books he was an educator, photographer, musician, storyteller and activist. Some of his best know works are To Be A Slave, This Strange New Feeling, Tales from Uncle Remus and Day of Tears.
A complete list of his achievements can be found on his Wikipedia page.