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Roll of Thunder : African American Life in the 1930s: Civil Rights in Schools

How authentic is Mildred D. Taylor's depiction of African American life in the South during the 1930's in the historical novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry? Let's explore that question in this guide.

What Was School Like for the Logan Family (from the book)?

Blacks - walk (for up to an hour) to school
Whites - ride a bus to school
Blacks -four weather-beaten wooden
houses on stilts of brick
Whites - long white wooden building with a
sports field and rows of benches
Blacks -discarded old books in poor condition
Whites - new books
Blacks - 7 teachers for 320 students, a short
school year that runs from late fall to early spring
(when students aren't working in the fields)

Plessy vs. Ferguson - How it Affected Schools

How did Homer Plessy's arrest for sitting in a white car lead to the Supreme Court Decision that whites and blacks could have separate facilities as long as they were "equal"?  How did this lead to different schools, and were they really "equal"? Homer Plessy was 7/8 Caucasian and 1/8 African American....kicked out of the seat he paid for, because of his skin color.

The Rights of Every American

Why the Constitution is Still Important Today

In 2011, students representing Scholastic asked President Barack Obama why the Constitution is still "cool" in America.

Separate But Not Equal

The Courage of Linda Brown


Linda Brown had to walk six blocks through a trainyard, cross a busy intersection, then ride another mile to Monroe Elementary School for African Americans.  Sumner Elementary for Whites was only seven blocks away.  Monroe Elementary had broken ceiling tiles, floors, plaster, windows, and heating ducts.  Separate was not equal, and the Browns filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas to get their daughter the right to go to the school closer to home.  Thurgood Marshall was the lawyer who argued their case before the United States Supreme Court in 1954...where 12 families won the case and paved the way for racially integrated schools across the country.  It took three years, but the decision for equality was finally made!

Brown vs. Board of Education: 5 Communities that Changed America

Focus Questions for the Book

What happened in the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Case?

What were public schools in the South like for African American children before this court decision?

How did this court decision affect African Americans?

If Brown vs. Board of Education had been decided before the Logan family's story took place, what would have been different in the book?

More Books on Civil Rights in School

In a Class of Her Own by Kathleen Gould Lundy

  • ISBN-10: 1419032127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419032127
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
  • ISBN-10: 039925644X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399256448
  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • ISBN-10: 0553494104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553494105
  • Oh, Freedom!: Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made It Happen: (Foreword by Rosa Parks)  by Linda Barrette Osborne

    • ISBN-10: 0679858563
    • ISBN-13: 978-0679858560
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