First you march, then you run!
Congressman John Lewis’s March trilogy was beyond excellent, so when his story was continued in this new series, I knew it would be a must-read. Co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell were also attached to this new series, plus an additional artist L. Fury who was able to replicate the art style that Powell had established in the earlier books when Powell didn’t have time to be the exclusive artist. While March had given an overview of the Civil Rights Movement from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, Run then takes a deeper look at Lewis’s life from 1965 to 1966. This pivotal year would have some heartbreaking lows for him, but it was the start of his journey towards becoming a Congressman from Georgia years later.
The message I received from this book was not to give up. Not only did Lewis not give up when faced with setbacks and arrests from his work in the Civil Rights Movement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he also didn’t give up when faced with personal disappointments. When he was replaced as chairman of SNCC with a radically different leader, he was devastated. He was honest with his failings, acknowledging the growing pains and fraught dynamics between many of the early leaders. While now he is recognized as one of the “Big Six” of Civil Rights activists and became a respected Congressman, he had some major stumbling blocks to overcome. But this shows the readers that they too can persevere, even after facing major obstacles.
The narrative and art are as strong as the March trilogy, with care shown to present as balanced a picture as possible. As with any memoir, all recollections are those of the author and are prone to their spin on the events. Main artist Fury tried to replicate the style that Powell had established and she did a great job of being historically accurate and faithfully duplicating what many real people looked like. The black & white illustrations really brought the story to life, giving us windows into Lewis’s life. This non-fiction narrative was further strengthened by the extensive biographies of people found in these pages, in addition to the notes and sources section at the end of the book.
This book is the start of what I believe will be another trilogy, but sadly Congressman Lewis died before it was published, although he had been involved with its story and had seen much of the artwork. Another artist had been attached to the project before Fury (I’m wondering what drama happened there), plus there were Covid issues, so the series was unfortunately delayed. With only a year covered in this book, there is so much more to share, so I hope Lewis was able to contribute more of his story with his team, so we get the entire scope of Lewis’s journey. His message of nonviolent civil disobedience and his quote “Make good trouble” are important truths to live by!