The images in Jacob Lawrence’s midcentury series “The American Struggle” are full of rush and clash, kinetically alive and confrontational. These 30 panels retell the story, in pivotal moments, of the American Revolution and the four decades that followed it—1775 to 1817. Lawrence, one of America’s best-known Black artists, painted his portrait of the nation’s birth spasms during the McCarthy era—a wake-up call, perhaps. The panels haven’t been reunited for 60 years. Now they are. First on view at the Peabody Essex Museum, the series will be at the Met until November 1, 2020, an election-year reminder that America’s ideals require a devotion to truth and a constant struggle for justice. —L.J.
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle was featured in the January 11, 2020 issue of Air Mail. Read on