Life for the main character, Daniel Howard, begins with his birth in New Orleans in 1902. His father is a prominent Methodist preacher from a successful and influential Creole family -“the Howard’s.” The family motto is, “work, save, educate.” His mother operates a no-name school for children who cannot attend regular school during the day. His paternal grandmother, Grandma Howard, chiefly commands the Howard family business interests. She is extremely color
conscious, preferring the lighter hue and Creole heritage. In his pre-teen years, Daniel Howard is often in trouble for being sighted on Bourbon or Basin Streets tap dancing and yearning to play the piano in the blues clubs and juke joints. Through his lens the reader is introduced to his view of New Orleans to include, the lively scenes in the French Quarters; Mardi Gras; Voodoo; Congo Square; and, life in a vibrant port city among many other experiences.
His maternal grandmother, “Nana”, heads the maternal side of his family. Nana is a widow and illiterate and resides in a tin roofed former slave cabin
outside of New Orleans. She is an extremely religious woman and ekes out a meager living as a maid. She is also the local midwife, and tends to the sick
with herb potions. She still grieves that her son, Lester, was dragged from her cabin one dark night and lynched.
After graduating from college, he is recruited to teach in a small-impoverished town in the Mississippi Delta where despite his hopes and desire to make a
difference, hardships and humiliations await him and his new bride, Miss Emma.