Julius Lester is one of the tiny number of blacks to convert to Judaism, thereby placing himself in double jeopardy. Lovesong, the autobiographical tale of Lester’s journey from minister’s son to Jewish convert, shows him beset by prejudice and misunderstanding from every direction. He has repeatedly followed the path of most resistance, with controversy his constant companion. Moderation is not his style; once he decides on a position he sticks to it with forceful, strident rhetoric. Only a headstrong personality coupled with a wry intelligence and eloquence has enabled him to survive his battles.
As a young radical working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) he gave himself to a passionate time. Through his book Look Out Whitey! Black Power’s Gon Get Your Mama! and his WBAI radio show in New York City, he championed black power. Yet even then, he admits, his true identity was a source of bewilderment. He was shocked that the flat, one-dimensional ideologue he projected in public was actually perceived as being him: “To be identified personally with words I have written is frightening.” As the emissary of a black message, his individuality was lost....
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