Tom Harvey (George Stanford Brown) assumes the leadership of the black community in Henning, Tennessee from his aging father, Chicken George (Avon Long).
Tom Harvey's daughter, Cynthia (Bever-Leigh Banfield) falls in love with Will Palmer (Stan Shaw) a railroad worker who soon lands a job at the lumber company. Tensions meanwhile mount in Henning as the white community seeks to strip the blacks of their rights. Will's friend Lee Garnet (Roger Mosley) is lynched after accompanying Tom (George Stanford Brown) when he fails in his attempt to register to vote.
Seventeen years later: Will Palmer (Stan Shaw) prospers as the owner of the lumber company. His daughter Bertha (Irene Cara) goes to college where she falls in love with Simon Haley (Dorian Harewood), a poor sharecropper's son. Bertha picks up Simon's diploma as he leaves school a week early to join the Army and World War I.
Simon Haley (Dorian Harewood) spends World War I with the 92nd Infantry, Colored, in France. On his return to the States, Simon and his buddies Doxey (Charles Weldon) and Haywood (Bernie Casey) are greeted by a lynch mob in Knoxville, Tennessee. Simon finally arrives in Henning where he marries Bertha (Irene Cara) and announces that they are going to Cornell University where he will take a master's degree in agriculture. Fourteen months later they return to Henning with their first son, Alex Haley.
12-year-old Alex Haley (Christoff St. John) learns his family history from grandfather Will Palmer (Stan Shaw).
Alex Haley (Damon Evans) joins the Coast Guard after leaving college. He meets and marries Nan Branch (Debbie Allen) before being sent to the South Pacific during WW II.
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