How does the novel Rolling Thunder, Hear My Cry reflect the ideologies of the Civil Rights Movement while its events take place in 1930?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The spirit of the Civil Rights Movement is embodied in Cassie, the nine-year-old narrator of Rolling Thunder, Hear My Cry, who is fiercely independent and who resents injustice.

  • When, for instance, the bus containing the white children splashes mud on them, they plan their revenge and cause the bus to land in a hole, damaging it.
  • Later, when Miss Crocker issues the children books, Little Man refuses his because it is dirty; then, when he sees that it has been issued to a "nigra," he hurls the book onto the floor, stepping on it angrily. Cassie, too, refuses her book, pointing to what the children have been termed in these books.
  • In a third incident, Cassie resents her grandmother's having to park her wagon of goods to sell behind those of the white people. When she is in the store in Strawberry and three white people are waited on ahead of her, she voices her objection to being overlooked.

Cassie's independence comes from that of her mother, who teaches at the school. Like her daughter, Mary Logan acts and thinks much more independently than the average black person of the 1930s who is under the Jim Crow Laws.

  • She, too, is committed to the cause of dignity for the blacks; consequently, she plans a boycott of the Wallace's general store after the Wallaces have been involved in a lynching of some black men.
  • Because she does not completely condemn her children for refusing to accept the textbooks with racist writing in it, and because Mary Logan teaches the children historically correct facts, charges against her are fabricated and she is fired by white administrators.
  • Mrs. Logan finds it difficult to teach her children that certain injustices must be endured. When, for example, they relate the incident with the bus, Mary smiles and says,

"You know, I'm glad no one was hurt--could've been too wih such a deep ditch--but I'm also rather glad it happened."

Cassie's father, too, has pride like his wife and children; he is willing to fight for what belongs to him. He and his brother Hammer are encouraged by Big Ma, who supports them in their fights against injustice. She carefully transfers ownership of the farm to Hammer, and encourages and inspires Cassie with her words and her oral history of the family. Certainly, all the Logans embody the mettle of those who fought for Civil Rights.


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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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