In 1969, newlywed Dorothy Tucker envisions herself living with her husband in quaint Minden, Louisiana, surrounded by their families, raising a family of their own, and becoming part of Minden history. The joy doesn't last long. After the birth of their child, James Lee, Dorothy obtains a divorce from her abusive and philandering husband, Fred. But Fred's parents are not about to lose control of their grandson.
When Dorothy loses custody of James Lee through Child Protective Services, she flees to California to start a new life, vowing to reconnect with her son someday. While waitressing and attending college, she meets and marries Jesse Barns, a black airman stationed at LAX. Together, through the haze of racism fueled by their mixed marriage, Dorothy and Jesse raise two children.
Twenty-five years later, she receives letter from James Lee, who says he wants to meet with her. The letter reveals James Lee as a racist who has just been released from prison. Dorothy must determine if this man, her firstborn son, will be a positive influence in her family's life, or if his racist attitudes will bring them all down.