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Mr. Morrison's family was wiped out one Christmas when he was only six years old. The year was 1876, and times were hard. The Morrison family lived in a shantytown outside the city of Shreveport. Reconstruction was just about over, and the Northern soliders whose job it had been to protect the freed men were tired, while the Southern whites were just itching to "turn things back 'round to the way they used to be." That Christmas night, two young Negro men came knocking frantically on the Morrisons' door. They had been accused of molesting a white women, and, not knowing what to do, they sought advice from Mr. Morrison's father, who was known to be strong and wise. Before they could finish telling their story, however, the notorious "night men...swept down like locusts" on the house, setting the house on fire and killing anyone they could get their hands on.
Mr. Morrison's sisters were killed in the fire; Mr. Morrison himself was saved by his mama, who carried him out of the house and threw him to safety before the hooded men could get their hands on him. Then, though they were ultimately killed, Mr. Morrison's mama and and daddy fought "like avenging angels of the Lord," inflicting as much damage as they could before they were overwhelmed. People believed that Mr. Morrison, who was only six at the time, was too young to remember what had happened, but he does. The events of that night are forever seared in his mind, and he makes sure that he never forgets (Chapter 7).