African-American professor of Judaic and Near Eastern studies and author Dr. Julius Lester from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst spoke on "Blacks and Jews: Where are We and Where are We Going?" in the Villard Room. “I agreed with him about the similarities between Jews and Blacks,” commented Makeda Tiye Smith ’98, “I disagreed, however, with his views about Black anti-semitism. …It is also in Black people’s self-interst to oppose any kind of racism, rather than justifying their resentment of what they feel as Jewish people trying to identify with them. I feel [Lester] overly compensated for Black anti-semitism.”      The Miscellany News

A folk singer and active member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Lester, whose maternal great-grandfather was a German Jew, converted to Judaism in 1982.  He served as lay leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, VT, from 1992 and 2006.