Roll of Thunder Portfolio Austin San Pedro, P.6

Jim Crow Laws

The Jim Crow Laws prohibited certain things that made blacks equal to whites to keep blacks as second class citizens. One of the laws being that a black man could not eat in the same place where a white man was eating, so they made white & colored entries for many businesses, seen below. Black & white establishments varied. Black establishments were cheap, diplidated, and had worse services, such as a black school teaching less, and thus, giving blacks a worse life than whites by keeping them from jobs.

Certain things that were thought to be equality were not allowed. Some of these things that were prohibited were a black man shaking hands with a white. A black man was not allowed to touch a white woman because it would be rape. If a vehicle was driven by a white man, a black man would have to sit at the back. If a black man did not follow these rules, he would be antagonized and the black man was lynched, which means given a punishment without trial.

The great depression

The great depression was a era in which the stock market crashed, hitting the economy hard. The characters in Roll of Thunder are affected by the depression because they live in a cotton farm, and in 1918-1928 the price of cotton fell. A three year drought also happened in 1925, so grown goods could not be mass produced as much and farmers turned to irrigation. A bug called the boil weevil destroyed crops, further destroying the production of cotton. These reasons are the reasons many left agriculture, many moving to other places. Although white people had it bad, blacks somehow had it even harder, many being forced off their land by declining prices. Although some kept their farms, others were forced into menial jobs.

Abolishment of slavery

The end of slavery meant that blacks would be allowed to be with society as civilians. Slavery was a discriminating culture that forced black people to work for whites, so when it finally subsided, it was, to quote Abraham Lincoln, "...Sincerely believed to be an act of justice..." (Abraham Lincoln, circa 1863) Even though blacks were treated as people, "... slavery became so profitable to people who had slaves and even to those who didn't that most folks decided to believe that black people really weren't people like everybody else." (Taylor 131) Although slavery had been abolished, and blacks were allowed in society, they were still looked down upon, and the jim crow laws were enforced, which made life as a colored person harder.

"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


Lynching is an execution without a fair trial. Due to the unfair laws given to blacks, called the Jim Crow laws, anything that may have meant equality was usually met with a lynching. This relates to Roll Of Thunder because many lynchings happen, like Mr. Berry, who is burnt. No one is spared in a lynching; as long if they are black, they can be lynched. This can be supported because T.J says that he "Heard tell they lynched a boy a few days ago at Crosston.” (Taylor 53) He is also threatened with a lynching near the ending of the novel.


Created with images by Charlie Phillips - "Lei Aurea ('Golden Law') ending slavery in Brazil, 1888"

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