illustration of a fire spreading through a field

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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Chapter 7 Summary

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Uncle Hammer has given Stacey a new coat, but it is too big. One day Mama asks Stacey to bring it to her so she can hem it. Reluctantly, Stacey admits that he gave the coat to T.J. because T.J. said it made Stacey look like a fat preacher. Mama orders Stacey to go get the coat back, but Hammer stops her, saying, “If Stacey’s not smart enough to hold on to a good coat, he don’t deserve it.”

Papa comes home for Christmas, and the family settles down to celebrate and tell old stories. Papa and Hammer reminisce about stealing watermelons in childhood, and Mama and Big Ma tell fun stories of their own. Mr. Morrison tells a different kind of story, about one Christmas when night men came and burned down his house. Mama objects that the children are too young to hear this, but Papa says, “These are things they need to hear, baby. It’s their history.” The children listen as Mr. Morrison tells how his mother threw him out of harm's way but ended up getting killed along with the rest of his family.

The Logan kids are excited to receive books as well as new clothes for Christmas. The Avery family joins them after church, and everyone eats, talks, and laughs together until they hear someone knocking.

Stacey opens the door to see Jeremy Simms, the Logan kids’ White friend, who gives him a bag of nuts and a hand-carved music pipe. After Jeremy leaves, Papa explains that friendship between Blacks and Whites does not mean much because it is not equal. He says Jeremy will turn against Stacey someday when the boys are both adults. Stacey does not agree, but Papa says that in Mississippi it is too dangerous to try to find out.

The White lawyer, Mr. Jamison, comes to see Big Ma the day after Christmas. The kids listen as Big Ma signs over the title for the Logan land to Papa and Uncle Hammer. Big Ma says she wants to make sure her sons own the land legally so that Harlan Granger cannot try to take the land away on a technicality when she dies.

When this business is over, Cassie thinks Mr. Jamison will leave, but he brings up the boycott Mama wants to start against the Wallace store. Mr. Jamison advises the Logans against using their land as collateral to back credit for Black sharecropping families at the store in Vicksburg. He says bluntly that they will lose their land if they do this. Then he surprises everyone by offering to back the credit himself. The adults discuss the implications of supporting a boycott, and they agree that it is dangerous because it suggests that White people like the Wallaces should be punished when they harm Black people. This attitude, Mr. Jamison says, suggests a support for equality, which will anger White leaders all around.

Nevertheless, the Logans go forward with the plan to help people shop in Vicksburg. A few days later, they bring home a huge load of groceries their neighbors have ordered. Right away, Harlan Granger shows up and says they could lose their land. Papa stands up to Mr. Granger, but Mr. Granger seems certain he can win.

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