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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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S: JPPSS and the Ogden Community Partners: Roll of Thunder, hear My Cry

FC: Mildred Taylor's Newbery Medal winning novel is retold in silhouette by the 7th graders of T.H. Harris Middle School. | A Community Partnership between The Ogden Museum of Southern Art and Jefferson Parish Public Schools.

2: ... I learned history not then written in books but one passed from generation to generation on the steps of moonlit porches and beside dying fires in one-room houses...

3: "Little Man,would you come on? You keep it up and you're gonna make us late."

4: Always meticulously neat, six-year-old Little Man never allowed dirt or tears or stains to mar anything he owned.

5: "Y'all go ahead and get dirty if y'all wanna," he replied without even looking up from his studies.

6: Before us a narrow, sun-splotched road wound like a lazy round serpent dividing the high forest bank of quiet, old trees on the left from the cotton field, forested by giant green-and purple stalks, on the right.

7: And so, in the spring of 1931, Papa set out looking for work,

8: ... going as far north as Memphis and as far south as the Delta country.

9: "I tell ya, Stacey, man," said T.J. morosely, shaking his head, "sometimes I jus' don't know 'bout that family of yours."

10: Little Man turned around and watched saucer-eyed as a bus bore down on him

11: spewing clouds of red dust like a huge yellow dragon breathing fire.

12: Little Man shook a threating fist into the thick air and then looked dismally down at himself.

13: Little Man hopped down from the bank.

14: He was often ridiculed by the other children at his school and had shown up more than once with wide red welts on his arms...

15: The Great Faith Elementary and Secondary school, one of the largest black schools in the county, was a dismal end to an hour's journey.

16: The class buildings, with there backs practically against the forest wall, formed a semicircle facing a small one-room church at the opposite edge of the compound.

17: "Soooooooo, it's you, Cassie Logan." Then she pursed her lips and drew the curtain along the rusted iron rod and tucked it into a loop in the back wall.

18: "What's that you said, Clayton Chester Logan?" she asked.

19: "I-I said may I have another book please, ma'am," he squeaked.

20: "That one's dirty."

21: Then his eyes grew wide, and suddenly he sucked in his breath and sprang from his chair like a wounded animal, | flinging the book onto the floor and stomping madly upon it.

22: "No? I'll give you ten seconds to pick up that book, boy, or I'm going to get my switch."

23: Mama was stooped over a low cotton branch.

24: To shield us from the rain, Mama issued us dried calfskins which we flung over our heads and shoulders like stiff cloaks.

25: If we had been faced only with the prospect of the rain soaking through our clothing each morning and evening, | we could have more easily endured the journey between home and school.

26: But as it was, we also had to worry about the Jefferson Davis school bus zooming from behind and splashing us with the murky waters of the road.

27: As we set out for the school the whiteness of the sun attempted to penetrate the storm clouds, but by the time we had turned north...

28: "Come on man," T.J. persuaded. "Why stay up here waitin' for that devilish bus when we could be at school outa this mess?"

29: Without another word, he put his bare foot upon the top edge of the shovel and sank it deep into the soft road.

30: When Stacey's and my holes merged into one big hole with Little Man's and Christopher-John's, Stacey and I threw down our shovels and grabbed extra buckets.

31: Then it sputtered a last murmuring protest and died, its left front wheel in our ditch, | its right wheel in the gully, like a lopsided billy goat on its knees.

32: Big Ma reached out and felt my forehead, then my cheeks.

33: Mr. Turner looked at Mama strangely. "Now, who'd sign for me?"

34: He recoiled as if I had struck him.

35: I was hot. I had been nice as I could be to him and here he was talking like this. "We been waiting on you for near an hour," I hissed, "while you 'round here waiting on everybody else. And it ain't fair. You got no right--"

36: Stacey jerked me forward, crushing my hand in the effort, and whispered angrily, "Shut up, Cassie."

37: It was then that I bumped into Lillian Jean Simms.

38: "Why don't you look where you're going?" she asked huffily.

39: With that, she reached for my arm and attempted to push me off the sidewalk.

40: I landed bottom first on the ground.

41: "When my gal Lillian Jean says for you to get yo'self off the sidewalk, you get, you hear?"

42: I stared up at Mr. Simms, frightened.

43: A painful tear slid down my check and my lips trembled.

44: Like Papa, he had dark, red-brown skin, a square-jawed face, and high cheekbones; yet there was a great difference between them somehow.

45: ... and the car zoomed angrily down the drive into the blackness of the Mississippi night.

46: "It happened and you have to accept the fact that in the world outside this house, things are not always as we would have them to be."

47: "Mr. Morrison will bring him back."

48: Mama touched Uncle Hammer's arm.

49: ...we had to back off the bridge when a white family started across after we were already on it.

50: "Hammer!" Big Ma cried. "They think you're Mr. Granger!"

51: Mama opened her sewing box.

52: "It's not all right. Now go get it for me."

53: In the kitchen, sweet potato pies, egg custard pies, and rich butter pound cakes cooled.

54: ...and the warm sound of husky voices and rising laughter mingled in tales of sorrow and happiness of days past but not forgotten.

55: "...They come down like ghosts that Christmas of seventy-six."

56: A soft light still crept under the door from Mama and Papa's room | and I immediately hurried toward it.

57: Stacey slid his fingers down the smooth, sanded back of a wooden flute.

58: Jeremy looked up at the sun, squinted, then glanced up his forest trail a few feet ahead.

59: When supper was ready, I eagerly grabbed the iron bell before Christopher-John or Little Man could claim it...

60: "Well, look-a-here!" he exclaimed. "Good ole butter beans and cornbread! You better come on, Mr. Morrison! You too, son" he called. "These womenfolks done gone and fixed us a feast."

61: I released the firefly imprisoned in my hand and sat beside Papa and Stacey on steps. "Papa please," I said, leaning against his leg, "don't go this year."

62: I grew quiet and Papa put his arms around Stacey and me, his hands falling casually over our shoulders.

63: Papa stood suddenly and grabbed Stacey upward.

64: Papa leaned against the tree.

65: Out of the darkness a round light appeared, moving slowly across the drive...

66: ''David!'' mama gasped, her voice a frightened whisper.

67: "Then Papa slipped the first wheel on... That's when he got shot--"

68: "There was a fearful moment's silence, then Christopher John, tears in his dark eyes, asked, "Stacey is... Papa gonna die?"

69: "Hey, ole Jack," I said, patting the mule as I watched Mr. Morris enter the side door.

70: "I told you before I was afraid for you. And today, Kaleb Wallace could have hurt you... and the children."

71: There, while the cows and their calves grazed nearby, we sat on the banks of the pond, our backs propped against an hickory or pine or walnut, our feet dangling lazily in the cool water, and waited for a watermelon brought from the garden to chill.

72: He entered the barn slowly and handed Papa an envelope.

73: Roll of thunder hear my cry Over the water bye and bye Ole man comin' down the line | Whip in hand to beat me down. But I ain't gonna let him Turn me 'round.

74: I pressed my ear against the door and listened, then slipped the latch furiously and darted outside.

75: They struggled, with Mr. Barnett getting the better of Melvin, until R.W. whopped Mr. Barnett solidly on the head from behind with the flat of the axe...

76: In the storage room at the back of the store was a small open window through which a child or a person as thin as T.J. could wiggle.

77: Then T.J. emerged, dragged from the house on his knees.

78: His face was bloody and when he tried to speak he cried with pain, mumbling his words as if his jaw was broken.

79: You was in there--Miz Barnett, when she come to and got help, said three black boys robbed their store and knocked out her and her husband.

80: "Mama, the cotton!" I cried. "It's on fire!"

81: Big Ma hurried into the kitchen with Christopher-John, Little man, and me at her heels.

82: Big Ma stepped onto the back of the porch and brought in the washtub and began to fill it with water and began to pour it on the fire.

83: "Th-that fire, Cassie," said Christopher-John, " it gonna burn us up?"

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Elizabeth Towe
  • By: Elizabeth T.
  • Joined: almost 6 years ago
  • Published Mixbooks: 2

About This Mixbook

  • Title: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • This is a retelling by Mrs. Porter's 7th grade class at T.H. Harris Middle School.
  • Tags: None
  • Published: almost 6 years ago

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