Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor tells the story of the Logan family as they try to keep their land in a predominantly-white, rural town in Mississippi. Young Cassie Logan struggles with the way things are and the way things should be for black people in her community. Mildred D. Taylor won the Newbery Award in 1977 for this work of historical fiction, which is based on the experiences of her own family.
Cassie and her brothers live in Great Faith, Mississippi in 1933, with Mama and Big Ma, Cassie's grandmother. Stacey is nearly 13, Cassie is 9, Christopher John is 7, and Little Man is 6 years old.
The two Wallace brothers burn Mr. Perry and his two nephews. One nephew dies and the other two are severely burned. The Wallaces brag about the horrible act among their friends, but are not arrested. They also allow kids to drink and dance behind their store.
After Stacey and T.J.'s fight at the Wallaces', Mama tries to convince the people of the town to boycott the Wallaces' store. With the backing of the white lawyer, Mr. Jamison, Papa and Mr. Morrison travel to Vicksburg to buy supplies for many families.
Mr. Granger is angling to buy the Logan land, and is upset that the Logans have forgotten their "place". Mama is fired from her job, Papa is shot on one of his trips, and suddenly the property mortgage becomes due in full. They turn to Hammer for help.
RW and Melvin Simms frame T.J. for a break-in and murder at the store. The Wallaces and the Simms brothers drag T.J. and his family outside and threaten to lynch T.J.
T.J.'s lynching is abandoned as everyone - both black and white - works together to put out the fire in the cotton fields. Cassie comes to realize that Papa started the fire to avoid further bloodshed.