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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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In Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, did the children of Great Faith Elementary receive equal education to those of Jefferson Davis Elementary?

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The education that the children of Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School receive is in no way equal to the education that the children of Jefferson Davis County School receive. In the Jim Crow era, even public schools themselves symbolized the difference in education they provided. Jefferson Davis Elementary was...

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named after the president of the Confederacy, and the Confederate flag flies over it (above the American flag), signifying that the school administration is unhappy with the outcome of the Civil War and views the Black children of Great Faith Elementary as inferior.

The conditions of the two schools further illustrate the different value placed on the educations of the two schools. Jefferson Davis County School is “a long white wooden building looming in the distance. Behind the building was a wide sports field around which were scattered rows of tiered gray-looking benches. In front of it were two yellow busses.” Students at Jefferson Davis have all the supplies and teachers they need. Great Faith, on the other hand— which all the students have to walk to—“was a dismal end to an hour’s journey. Consisting of four weather-beaten wooden houses on stilts of brick. 320 students, seven teachers, a principal, a caretaker, and the caretaker’s cow . . . ” The students of Great Faith are constantly reminded that they are not considered equal to the students of Jefferson Davis.

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In the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, the black children of Great Faith Elementary School do not receive an education equal to the white children of Jefferson Davis Elementary.  One example is the textbooks which the white children have used for seven or eight years before they are given to the black children to use.  The white school, of course, gets the new textbooks with updated information.  Another example is the bus where the white children are bussed to school while the black children are forced to walk in the worst of weather.  The supplies the black children have are almost non-existent compared to the white children. And yet, the black children get the best education possible under the circumstances as Mary, Cassie's mother and the 7th grade teacher, is determined to teach the children all the facts, even the ones not listed in the books. 

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