Fifteen-year-old Rob Garrett wants nothing more than to escape the segregated South and prove himself. But in late 1950s Virginia, opportunity doesn't come easily to an African American. So Rob's parents take the unusual step of enrolling their son in a Connecticut boarding school, where he will have the best education available. He will also be the first student of color in the school's history. No matter — Rob Garrett is on his way.
But times are changing. While Rob is experiencing the privilege and isolation of private school, a movement is rising back home. Men and women are organizing, demanding an end to segregation, and in Rob's hometown, his friends are on the verge of taking action. There is even talk about sitting in at a lunch counter that refuses to serve black people. Meanwhile, Rob meets many new people, including African repatriatist Lewis Michaux, the Black Panther minister Malcolm X, and Gordie Burns, a Jewish classmate, each exposing him to different doctrines of how to improve the nation's perceptions and treatment of African Americans.