Julius Lester is an American writer and an academic who taught for over three decades at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is also a photographer, as well as a musician who recorded two albums of folk music and original songs. His very first book was an instructional music book co-authored with Pete Seeger. His children's book, To Be a Slave, was recognized for a Newbery Honor and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. He received a Caldecott Honor, among others, for the book John Henry.