January 26 Online Event: Love Stories—Memoir Writing and Allyship

Authors Joan Lester, Katya Cenge talk about love, life and writing

Authors Joan Lester and Katya Cengel have both crafted memoirs around a love story. Together, they will talk about what to include and what to leave out when writing about our most intimate relationships. They will address how to find the right place to enter the story—especially when you are an outsider as Joan was as a white woman in the Civil Rights Movement and Katya was as an American in Ukraine.

As we head into Black History Month, Joan will share her story of advocating for civil rights in the 1950s. Decades before white allyship was discussed and there were still bans on interracial marriage, Joan Lester (then Steinau) fought alongside and fell in love with a Black man: fellow activist and writer Julius Lester. Joan chronicles their 1962 marriage, fight for civil rights and her own awakening as a feminist in her recent memoir, Loving Before Loving: A Marriage in Black and White.

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple, calls Loving Before Loving “the real deal.” In conversation with the author and one of our instructors, Katya Cengel, Joan will delve into what it means to be an ally, touching on white supremacy, reparations and interracial relationships.

Join them in an open and enlivening lesson on love, life and writing.

About Our Speakers

Dr. Joan Lester is an award-winning commentator, columnist and author of six critically acclaimed books. Her writing has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, USA Today, Ebony, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Black Issues Book Review, Ms., Cosmopolitan, Common Dreams and Huffington Post.

Katya Cengel is a freelance writer and author of Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) 2020 winner and Foreword Indies 2019 winner From Chernobyl With Love: Reporting From the Ruins of the Soviet Union (Potomac, 2019), as well as two other nonfiction books. Her work has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Marie Claire, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, among other publications.

Video of the Event