Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Mildred D. Taylor
Cassie Logan and her family are struggling to make ends meet farming down in Mississippi during the depression. While learning how to survive the land, Cassie learns to survive as an individual in spite of the racism that surrounds her community. A very spirited girl, Cassie speaks her mind and lets people know what she thinks of them. Through the story, Cassie is constantly faced with the inequality of blacks and whites and comes to an understanding of what that means for her. Her story is one of courage and sacrifice.
The Logan family farms cotton on land they have owned for 50 years. Cassie’s mother is a teacher nearby at the black school while her father works for the railroad for most of the year. Cassie and her brothers walk to school every day in their bare feet where they receive hand-me-down books in bad condition from the white schools. At the beginning of the story, Cassie does not seem to understand why her school does not have nice buses like the white school, or why her friend’s order is forgotten at the Wallace store when a white girl comes to the counter. Cassie is very proud and does not understand why being black means people can treat her badly.
The story becomes tense when Cassie hears about “burnings” and her father brings Mr. Morrison to stay with them while he is away. After an incident involving the Wallace’s and some black men, Cassie’s Papa and Mama decide to shop in Vicksburg and convince other families in the area to do also. On the way home from the store one night, Papa, Mr. Morrison, and Stacey are attacked and Papa is shot at and breaks his leg. Papa gets better but can not go back to the railroad to work and Mama got fired from her teaching position when the board hears her teaching the history of slavery. Things get tight around the Logan home, but Uncle Hammer comes with money to help and the family gets by.
Cassie’s brother Stacey is faced with a friendship gone sour when TJ, who is always getting him into trouble, decides to run with two older white boys. His friend robs a store, people are hurt, and mob of angry men come to his house planning to kill him. The night is one of fear and darkness when Cassie faces losing her friend, her family, and the land that is theirs. Through it all, Cassie grows strong and learns a valuable lesson. Sometimes we have to stand up and risk everything to do what’s right.
The reality of hate and disrespect towards the black community are portrayed in this story of strength and hope. This heart wrenching story is one that everyone should read at one time in their lives. It teaches many important lessons like the importance of family and being thankful for what you have. This book should be read by middle school age or older in an effort to understand the role that racism played in American history. It spoke to my heart and brought me new understanding and I hope it will do the same for you. - KP