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The book talks about the story of Black American people and how they were handled in the years back in 1976. This novel brings clearly the life of Black Americans and how they lived during the Mississippi era. In the novel, the family struggles to keep the small piece of land they own. They face many injustices that are brought about by race. The children are harassed in their school bus that is much occupied by many whites and they decide later to pay back. They later opt to dig a big trench beside the road. The author in the novel brings clearly the aspect of racism in the Mississippi era.
There was discrimination in the American society. Filled with anger, the aggrieved families had to look for the best way available to defend their rights. They realized that anger alone could not fight discrimination. The author brings out clearly that one needs determination and the will to fight discrimination. When the boy is seen to go dig a trench in the road so that the bus does not pass through, he is simply driven by emotions, and finds that act as the most appropriate and available means in which he would defend himself and his family. It was the small things done by small people of America in the 1930s through to 970s that brought about justice for all, as these people for against discrimination with all their might. The war against discrimination and racism in the American society has been prominently featured in the historical books and articles around the world. The efforts made by many activists, despite the limited resources, changed the perception of many young Americans towards one another.
The changed perception
Racism in America before 1930s was seen as a normal reaction to the "advanced" westerners to the "less cultured" African Americans. The latter was the minority and the attitude was rampant among the people, enforced by various policies that justified the racial acts itself. However, after World War I, the colonialism was diminishing and the black civil rights had emerged to challenge the white domination and discrimination of the black people. The kind of protests that followed bordered on the intentions of the blacks to be free from discrimination and prejudice. The perception of the inferior blacks was gradually becoming rejected, especially among the elites. This process was stimulated by the increased changed perception of the ordinary Americans that discrimination was unfair, unjust, and irrational in the entire societal setup. For instance, the book demonstrates how Cassie and her brothers who were among the blacks were surprised when they learned that the black people in a harsh manner. Racism discrimination is highly promoted in school settings where we see the black students being given worn out books. The books also include the race of the student by the use of the words like nigra (Taylor 68).
The Roll of Thunder, Hear my cry relates to its times in that it took place at the time when the most farmers lost their land as a result of eviction. This is demonstrated by the Logan family who are among the few black Americans fortunate enough to have a land of their own. Many black farmers during this period worked as tenant farmers on the lands owned by the whites. The book was also written at a time when there was extreme problems that occurred as a result of great depression .The African American in the south had to contend with the strict restrictions of the Jim Crow era. Beginning in the late nineteenth century up to the time when the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Crows' laws and regulations were given a name from a popular nineteenth century song, dictated by a policy of extreme segregation and discrimination against the blacks. For instance, the blacks experienced segregation in places such as restrooms, drinking joints, theatres, schools, and restaurants. The United States Supreme Court ruling in Plessey v.Ferguson sanctioned the establishment of the separate but equal facilities for both the blacks and the whites. The fact that Cassie and her brothers had to walk to school while the whites took a bus gives a clear example of the inferior provisions allocated to African Americans.
Blacks experienced regular hostility and humiliation from the whites. This was promoted even more by the unwritten social code of the Jim Crow era, which made it easier for the privileged whites to practice appalling control over the blacks. The book's demonstration of Cassie's trip to Strawberry typifies the humiliation blacks encountered. For instance, when Lillian Jean demands that Cassie leave the sidewalk and then apologize to Jean, she trying to act upon the social code that needed the blacks to defer to whites. Likewise, when Cassie is forced repeatedly to the end of the line in the Barnett Mercantile, she falls victim to the custom that allowed whites to be attended to before the blacks. Another example that demonstrates Jim Crow code is when the Logan family in uncle Hammer's new car was expected to pull off the bridge to let a white family's car cross first.
Southern blacks like the Logan family had very limited resources in the face of such injustice. The family of Logan were very strong, tight-knit of people who greatly care about their self -esteem and respect, and at one point in the book they took a brave stand against whites by boycotting the Wallace store. They knew their limits when it came to dealing with the whites. Majority of the blacks in that time of the period chose not to behave as boldly as the Logan, but instead chose to go along with Jim Crow policies. Their major concern was to survive without causing any offense to the whites from the derived income of the blacks. The sharecropper from the Logan family refused to boycott the Wallace store in order to give protection to their livelihood at the expense of their independent voice (Beech 120). The whites had the power to take away black's source of income at anytime even without proper reason, For instance, it was a painful experience when Mr. Logan lost his teaching job without any good reason.
The book Roll of thunder, Hear My Cry participated in the movement of those times particularly in the field of politics. For instance, the case of Mr. Logan's firing provides a clear picture of the degree of political power held by the whites. White men were given the power to make decisions affecting all schools attended by the balcks.The blacks were denied a chance to even serve on the school board. The lack of black political power began from the Mississippi constitution of 1890, which invented the fourteenth and the fifteenth amendments to the United States constitution. The constitution of Missississip constitution made it clear that for any citizen to cast a vote, they had to pay a poll that was supposed to show that one had not participated in any crimes of a certain nature, and also had to pass a reading test that illustrated his or her understanding of the part of Mississippi constitution. All these restrictions made it quite hard for the African Americans to qualify for the voting privileges that were supposedly created by the fourteenth and the fifteenth amendment to the United States constitution. This was because of the high levels of illiteracy among the blacks which meant that very few would succeed the reading test. The test was established by the whites with an intention of making the test very difficult for the black applicants that they would fail. The test did not only require reading and writing a section of the constitution but also a good interpretation of it that gave a satisfying reason to the tester. Terrorism was also used in the process of politics through murder and severe beatings at nights in attempt to keep them out of the political procedures (Aneilli 78). The black missississip were kept away from the polls-white supremacists where the whites would ride to the homes of the potential black voters and terrorize them seriously. Therefore, as a result, whites ended voting for more whites in offices and legally remained in power. This thus, clearly illustrates why the whites in the book could easily commit felonies without fear of being punished because the police leaders, judges, and lawyers were all white. It was unlike that they would turn in other whites for taking justice into their own hands when the victims were black. In the schools particularly rural schools, during the time of great depression had the inadequate educational facilities in the country. By 1930s, eight years of mandatory education was standard throughout the country except in the rural south. Only half of the school aged black children went to school during this period.
Most of black sharecroppers required their children to assist in earning income on the land, and the white farm owners did not reject to having more workers. In addition, many schools at this time had inadequate funds and this led to closure of many schools leaving students with no educational alternatives. Most of the southern black student got their education in completely separate and unequal facilities far from their white opponents. In deplorable physical conditions, black schools experienced the hardship of limited supplies and insufficient space in which students could occupy. A typical school included one room with benches' instead of desks, one stove, and a makeshift black board. There was no water supply in Missississip between 1933 and 1935 in black schools.Ninenty percent lacked outhouse and only five percent had a library or supplementary books of any kind. In the book, Cassie and Little man were indeed lucky by the standards of the place and time to receive even the dirty, worn out books that had been provided by the white schools. During this period, black students were unlucky because they were taught by untrained teachers. This is because anyone who passed a fourth grade test was seen as a potential person to teach in Missississip.As late as world war two, more than half the black teachers in the state had not acquired high school diplomas. The missing of grammar skills explained the reasons to the low level education of the teacher. Still, many capable and caring teachers like Mrs. Logan had the ability to maintain students who came to school. Black children were seen to have more interest in learning than the whites.
The novel Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry illustrates a story of one of African American family which struggled in order to stay together and powerful in the face of brutal racist attacks, illness, poverty, and betrayal in the deep south of the 1930s.Cassies a young child growing up under the protection of her parents had no reason to suspect that any white person could consider causing harm to blacks.