Run Home If You Don't Want to Be Killed

The Detroit Uprising of 1943

By Rachel Marie-Crane Williams

Run Home If You Don't Want to Be Killed

304 pp., 7 x 10, 330 halftones, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6327-2
    Published: March 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6326-5
    Published: March 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6328-9
    Published: February 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4723-2
    Published: February 2021

Documentary Arts and Culture

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In the heat of June in 1943, a wave of destructive and deadly civil unrest took place in the streets of Detroit. The city was under the pressures of both wartime industrial production and the nascent civil rights movement, setting the stage for massive turmoil and racial violence. Thirty-four people were killed, most of whom were Black, and over half of these were killed by police. Two thousand people were arrested, and over seven hundred sustained injuries requiring treatment at local hospitals. Property damage was estimated to be nearly $2 million.

With Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed, Rachel Marie-Crane Williams delivers a graphic retelling of the racism and tension leading up to the violence of those summer days. By incorporating firsthand accounts collected by the NAACP and telling them through a combination of hand-drawn images, historical dialogue, and narration, Williams makes the history and impact of these events immediate, and in showing us what happened, she reminds us that many issues of the time—police brutality, state-sponsored oppression, economic disparity, white supremacy—plague our country to this day.

About the Author

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams is associate professor of art and art history, and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies, at the University of Iowa.
For more information about Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, visit the Author Page.


“Through the use of graphic images of both important and ordinary people, major events and details of daily life, this study presents a new way of looking at a violent moment in wartime Detroit, the issues of which in many ways remain with us today.”—Michigan Historical Review

“What a graphic treatment must be, above all things, is readable and enjoyable. Rachel Marie-Crane Williams, indeed, accomplishes this. Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed is an important book, one that sheds light on the complexity of a dark chapter in America’s history--one of relevance today.”--Joe Sacco, author of Paying the Land and Footnotes in Gaza

“Beautifully illustrated, engaging, and provocative, Run Home If You Don’t Want to Be Killed is unlike any graphic history I’ve encountered. Rachel Marie-Crane Williams provides a deep contextualization of the Detroit ‘riot’ of 1943, situating the uprising in the context of race, class, and wartime labor strife, through artwork that readers won’t soon forget.”—Karlos K. Hill, author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory