Roll of Thunder Portfolio Lauren YEretzian - English 4


White and Black children could not attend the same schools. While white children had a steady learning environment fashioned with desks and books, the blacks had to endure with a weathered-down school. They often did not learn with books, either.
Voting was hard on African Americans because all odds were against their favor. To vote, a test had to be taken, and the white officials varied the difficulty of the questions depending on their liking. If they passed the test, then these lucky black people had to pay many taxes in order to obtain the ability to vote like a normal white person.


The book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, takes place during the Great Depression in the Southern states of North America. At the time, Jim Crow Laws brought hardship to Black Families, such as the Logans, but other concerns began to pile up as well. During the Great Depression, past boom in economy from the 1920's led to financial hardship for families all across the world. Many people lost their homes and money when banks closed, and were left to live in shacks made out of scraps from the streets, called Hoovervilles. Jobs were scarce, and many had to leave their families to find work elsewhere, such as what papa did in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Many African American children at Cassie, Little Man, Christopher John, and Stacey's school wore tattered and faded clothes because they could not afford new ones, especially with segregation laws around. Owing land meant power for the Logans, especially at a time when their their rights were stripped away, and many white people could not afford it either. The Logans were proud of their land, and wouldn't give it up for the world. As if all the economic worries were not enough, vast amounts of dirt began to rain over the Southern parts of the United States. This was known as the Dust Bowl, according to a news reporter at the time. Due to over plowing, farming, and settling, the soil was able to be pushed around by heavy winds, and carried through both the air, and the smallest nooks and crannies of homes. Farmers could no longer work on their fields because of the dust storms, and profit from farming was even scarce in the most economically desolate areas. The dust angered Cassie and her brothers in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry when they had to walk to school and dealt with it staining their shoes and even clothes when it was splashed in puddles by the rain. Little Man, who loved to be clean, was the most annoyed, and even though it didn't blow often, just sitting on the ground would ruin their clothes.

“Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain’t never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. You may not understand that now, but one day you will. Then you’ll see.” (Taylor, 28)


Both inslaved and free farmer African Americans often worked on cotton fields, and even children had to endure the prickly ends on each leaf to extract the cotton from the plant.
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." -The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America
During the days of a constant fights for color equality, black people were constantly hanged and punished in the open by whites, which was widely accepted by all, rather by force or choice. However, as President Lincoln was elected, he stood with the idea for blacks to take back many rights that were theirs before being hauled to American lands.

As American slavery in the 1860's began to fade as Lincoln, a president who fought for African American rights stepped to many slaves' defense. Before this however, slaves were first imported to North America in 1619 all the way from Africa to farm on tabacco plantations pay. To prevent the blacks from rebelling, people all over were told that they were not as human as white people and putting hard work onto slaves was told in the Bible, therefore, whites did not feel guilty. Up until the 1860's, slave trading and labor became a major source of prosperity in America, and it brought the country to its powerful state for many years to come. However, when Lincoln took a stand for the mistreated black people of his nation, and the civil war broke out, more people joined him and in turn, the African Americans gained more rights. As most blacks were inslaved in this time, most of their rights were granted to them when the president himself freed many blacks in states that did not conflict with his ideas. For example, in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Cassie and the rest of the Logans were put after the whites in lines at markets and in constant fear of being abused helplessly by whites. However, they did have the right to keep land and were able to sell goods as well, even if they were discriminated heavily in the process. Also, Papa's brother, Uncle Hammer lived in Chicago, Illinois, where African Americans had more freedoms and job opportunities, so he could earn more money. His car, a sharp packard, similar to Mr. Granger's car, but even newer, shows that he believes that white blacks are equal, a very ambitious idea at the time and place. “Well, not exactly like it, Mama. Mine’s a few months newer. Last year when I come down here, I was right impressed with that big ole Packard of Mr. Harlan Filmore Granger’s and I thought I’d like to own one myself." (Taylor, 203), is how he modestly admits it to Mama.


Jim Crow laws forced a horrible widespread opinion on people during the Great Depression; that white people were superior to colored people. Although most black people followed these segregating laws, what happened to the people who didn't? Lynching was a method of punishing people who did not follow Jim Crow laws, all without a fair trial. It was legal to hang or beat a colored man, woman, or even child if they did not follow the law, no matter how tiny their mistake was. Sometimes blacks were lynched for no reason whatsoever. Lynching was used in Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry when the Wallaces burned the Berrys, or what was going to happen to T.J. when he was accused of killing Mr. Barnett. Mama also constantly worried and warned her family about how their actions could lead to lynching if they were not careful.

“If I’d’ve knocked his girl down, you know what’d’ve happened to me? Yeah, you know all right. Right now I’d be hanging from that oak over yonder” (Taylor, 210)

This was Uncle Hammer describing how he would be hanged, a common form of lynching, if he fought with Mr. Simms when he pushed Cassie to the ground.

Strange Fruit by Billie Holliday was a song about the colored bodies hanging on trees after a lynching.


Created with images by kimberlykv - "Cotton Harvest" • kevin dooley - "School bus" • Sean McMenemy - "VOTE" • USDAgov - "Tree poster" • buyalex - "Museum of the Great Depression Business Strategy Book" • expom2uk - "Dust Storm" • Pexels - "corn agriculture soil" • paulsimpson1976 - "The Great Depression" • Thomas Shahan 3 - "White Collar, c. 1940 - Linocuts by Giacomo G. Patri" • USDAgov - "Dust Bowl" • Boston Public Library - "Golden Cottolene [front]" • Kheel Center, Cornell University Library - "Panel from Diego Rivera's mural at Unity House, depicting the growing conflict over slavery that eventually led to the Civil War. Also included are references to the Mexican War and the discovery of gold in California. Important figures include Henry Da"

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