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Do Lord Remember Me [Hardcover]

Julius Lester

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Book Description

Jan 1985
In a gray fieldstone house in Nashville, Tennessee, the Reverend Joshua Smith Sr.--the staunch and gentle man known to thousands in black churches throughout the South as the Singing Evangelist and to one white reporter as "the Colored Billy Graham"--is trying to compose his own obituary on what will be the last day of his life. In doing so, he looks back over that life--from his childhood in rural nothern Mississippi to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, from tears of humiliation to songs of celebration and triumph. When "Do Lord Remember "was first published in 1984, the "Chicago Sun-Times "compared it to Alex Haley's "Roots," "Newsday "described it as "exquisitely crafted," "People "as "distinguished," the "Philadelphia Inquirer "as "riveting," and the "Cleveland Plain-Dealer "declared "every page has something worth remembering." Twenty years later and now a classic, "Do Lord Remember Me "is an eloquent and deeply moving story about a black family's dignified struggle for survival.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston; First Edition First Printing edition (Jan 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0030715342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0030715341
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.2 x 2.5 cm

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Product Description


"An intense and passionate story."- "Ebony""Julius Lester is foremost...among black writers who produce their works from a position of historical strength."- "The New York Times Book Review""Lester forces us to feel the texture of the South as it must have felt...at once lamentational, cautionary, and joyous."- "The Boston Globe" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Julius Lester is the author of over thirty books for children and adults. He has received numerous awards including a Newbery Honor, ALA Notable Book, and "Smithsonian "magazine's Best Book of the Year. He lives in Belchertown, Massachusetts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Reverend Joshua Smith, Sr. was born November 5, 1900 in Ouichitta, Mississippi. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving! 12 Mar 2005
By Pretty Brown Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Do Lord, Remember Me is a story about a man, Joshua Smith, who has truly lived his life. As he faces his last days and prepares to write his obituary he reflects on his accomplishments and failures as a parent, minister, and politician. However, the book is more than a "fictional memoir"- it is a history lesson. Spanning decades beginning in the post-Civil War era through the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement, Lester writes about the plight and elicits the viewpoint of a humble black man with a strong spiritual center struggling to survive in the racist South. It is his soft tread, strong fortification, and faith in God that keep him sane and alive.

As a child, he is the son of sharecroppers and is subjected to destitute conditions as his family deals with infanticide and poverty. He loses his mother to depression, his father to alcoholism, and his older brother to restlessness. He is "called by God" at a young age and becomes a self-ordained country preacher and primary caretaker to his younger siblings. He, by default, became the voice of his flock and caregiver to all, often being the diplomat when dealing with family squabbles, local politicians, and life-threatening racial situations. Lester creates a flawed character in that Rev. Smith is not a perfect father, husband, or brother and the scenes dealing with his faults are depicted with warm sincerity and sensitivity.

In the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement, his type of survival skills were frowned upon by the younger, more outspoken generation. He and others like him were labeled "Uncle Tom" and called cow-towers. They were scorned by the youth, ignored by the masses, and symbolically placed on shelf to be intentionally forgotten. They did not admire the kind of strength, control, and resolve it took for Rev Smith and others like him to humble themselves in the face of adversity.

Despite the slow start, I really enjoyed the book and the history lessons experienced during Rev. Smith's life journey. There were many moments that tapped the emotions - some passages were painful, frustrating, and sorrowful. Lester captures the essence of the eras with splendor - for a black man coming of age in the Jim Crow South, nothing was given and life was not easy and this novel cuts to the core of the sentiment.

Reviewed by Phyllis

APOOO BookClub, The Nubian Circle Book Club
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Testimony 22 Dec 2004
By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers - Published on Amazon.com
Have you ever wondered if your life made a difference? Have you ever feared death? These are the two main themes of Julius Lester's DO LORD REMEMBER ME, a compelling novel in which the main character Reverend Joshua Smith reflects over his life and prepares for his death. As he struggles to gather enough clarity to prepare his own obituary, he reminisces over his experiences as a child, parent, husband, spiritual leader, and political leader. He is reminded of his strength as he fights to maintain his dignity in spite of his rapidly declining health.

Reverend Smith's life encompassed several historic social eras in United States history. As a child he grew up around former slaves who had been freed as a result of the Civil War. He received his call to ministry at a very young age, and as a religious leader, he often found himself amid negotiations to help protect the best interests of blacks while keeping them safe (and alive) through the Jim Crow era. He was highly respected by both blacks and whites in the community and a much sought after evangelist. However, the strength of his legacy was weakened as a result of the Civil Rights Era. His willingness to sacrifice his own dignity for the greater good was then looked upon as weakness, and some relegated him to the position of an Uncle Tom. He also notes the strained relationship he shares with his sons and acknowledges some of the mistakes he made in their upbringing.

DO LORD REMEMBER ME is a story about a man caught between eras. He is a man of strength and courage even in his weakest moments. As he struggles to prepare his written legacy, I was taken on a journey through history as well as a deeply personal exploration of the main character's life. Julius Lester has done a wonderful job creating characters I could empathize with, at times bringing me to the brink of tears. Reverend Joshua Smith is a character I will not soon forget, and I can only hope that when my time comes I can prepare for death with the same strength and dignity he illustrated.

Reviewed by Stacey Seay

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still will touch the souls of readers 29 Sep 2004
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
He knows he is dying, but no longer fears Death. He writes his obit, but struggles with his memories and his writing hand as the stroke has debilitated him, but he accepts the late evening of his life with death near. Reverend Joshua Smith, Sr. looks back to morning in Jim Crow Mississippi as the seventh child but did his time begin in 1897 or 1900? He thinks back with affection of his afternoon of fifty-six years with his wife Myra and their children as they worshipped the Lord. Civil Rights led him to hope for his people but Joshua drifts from Afternoon to a Night that no longer frightens him. Joshua with the Lord, his family, and a cigar to guide him no longer fears that ugly monster Death. Evening is calling in Nashville and Reverend Joshua Smith Sr. works on his obituary trying to give himself the solace he gave to thousands as the Singing Evangelist for this is the last day of his life.

This reprint of a 1980s classic homage touches readers as Joshua has lived a fill life helping Southern Blacks cope with the changes in society while bringing the Lord to the flock. This passionate reverence to Reverend Smith is also a terrific look at the metamorphosis of the Deep South. DO LORD REMEMBER ME is superb biographical "fiction" as readers understand how Julius Lester rightfully lionizes his father Joshua by looking back at his life and impending death; clearly the son pays his deepest regard to his father (and his mother) in a fantastic thank you that will touch the souls of readers.

Harriet Klausner
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another kind of love story 6 Mar 2003
By bukhtan - Published on Amazon.com
Julius Lester tells his father's story with a passion usually reserved for romance, and with an absolute lack of sentimentality. This is a wonderful description of growing up black in the Jim Crow South, life- and dignity affirming with no trace of bitterness.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the truest story 28 July 2000
By sara - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of the best, truest books I have ever read. It reads more like an autobiography than like fiction. Through the life story of one man, the book allows you to taste a bit of the black experience in America spanning hundreds of years. Emotionally it is not easy reading, but well worth it.
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