The owner of the Mercantile in Strawberry cheats his black customer, Sam Tatum, and when Tatum accuses him of lying, "night men" tar and feather Tatum. When TJ tries to buy goods for his mother at the store, Barnett stops serving him and ignores him for an hour while waiting on white customers. When Cassie politely tries to remind him that they are waiting, he calls her a "little nigger," and throws her out of his store. When the Simms brothers and TJ break into his store, he comes down to investigate and RW hits him over the head with the flat part of an axe. He dies the next morning.
Soon, Granger forces the Logans to pay up on a loan they once took out from the bank. Uncle Hammer has to sell his car in order to make the payment. Meanwhile, T. J. has become a rogue, a known thief, and he hangs out with two trouble-making White teenagers, Melvin and R. W.. One day, they bring him along on a murderous rampage and manage to frame him. Papa and L. T. go to stop the lynching that follows. Almost as soon as they leave, however, the cotton field catches fire, as if it was struck by lightning. The lynch mob and the local black farmers must band together in order to stop the fire. It turns out that Papa started the fire in order to stop the lynching.