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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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After Papa came home for Christmas, what did Mr. Morrison say happened to his family in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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When Papa came home for Christmas, the family spent some time sharing stories and reminiscences. Mr. Morrison recalled the "Christmas of seventy-six," a day of tragedy for his family.

Reconstruction was just about over at the time, and the Northern soldiers sent to protect the freed slaves in the South "didn't hardly care" about them anymore. The Southern whites, seeing this, were beginning to terrorize the Negroes, in an attempt to take back the gains they had made and make things like they used to be before the war. Two young black men came running, terrified, to the Morrison home. They had been accused of molesting a white woman, and were being pursued. Mr. Morrison's daddy let the two men in, but very soon, a horde of Ku Klux Klan members burst into the house "with their Rebel sabers, hacking and killing, burning (the family) out. Mr. Morrison's parents, who were both very strong, having been bred by their slavemasters for that purpose, fought back "like avenging angels of the Lord," but were quickly overcome. Mr. Morrison was only about six years old at the time, and one of the last acts of his mother before she died was to throw him clear of the danger. Because of Mr. Morrison's mother's heroic act, he survived the attack, but both of his parents were killed. Mr. Morrison notes that although people tell him he was too young to remember what happened that night, he "remembers all right...(he) makes (him)self remember" (Chapter 7).

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