cover image Run: Book One

Run: Book One

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, L. Fury, and Nate Powell. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3069-6

This worthy successor to the late Congressman Lewis’s March graphic memoir trilogy picks up in the civil rights leader’s life during the 1960s counterculture revolution. The narrative opens where March ended, with the hard-fought passage of the Civil Rights Act. But with these freedoms come fresh challenges and old threats that refuse to die. The Watts Riot breaks out just five days after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, foreshadowing the fraught period to come. As head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis struggles to carry on the peace-based activism of his friend and mentor, Martin Luther King Jr., in the face of waves of white supremacist violence. As militant young Black activists take up the chant of “Black Power!” and ideological divisions tear the SNCC apart, Lewis and his colleague navigate sticky issues like the Vietnam War draft (“Where is the draft for the freedom fight in the United States?”) and the Black separatist movement. “Is America ready to share its abundance with people of color?” Lewis wonders. At the same time, civil rights organizers such as Julian Bond and Marion Barry overcome enormous odds and violent opposition to win elected office, giving the still-young Lewis a glimpse of hope for his own political future. Newcomer Fury takes over capably from March’s artist Powell (who assists on this volume), drawing in a similar fluid, softly shaded style that provides continuity while guiding readers into complex issues. This living history gives faces and voices to the legends of the civil rights era and connects their struggles to the present; the police brutality, voter suppression tactics, and segregationist politics of the 1960s are not so different from those Lewis was still making “good trouble” against at the time of his death in 2020. Lewis’s stunning American story and legacy lives on in these pages. Agent: Jeff Posternak, the Wylie Agency. (Aug.)