In Gambia, West Africa, Kunta Kinte, son of Omoro and Binta, distinguishes himself in manhood training rituals. But he does not enjoy his new status long: slave traders sweeping the countryside seize him. Chained with other captives, Kunta begins an agonized odyssey to the New World.
Despite a violent rebellion, the slave ship Lord Ligonier completes its voyage and Kunta Kinte endures the indiginity of an Annapolis slave auction. Fiddler, the slave in charge of Kunta's training, becomes his only friend ? a friendship that's tested when Kunta plans an escape so he can be with Fanta
Kunta Kinte's only child, Kizzy, is on the Moore's ranch, older, and with an 18-year old son, George. He is the opposite of Kunta, as Kizzy says, "a slave through and through" and his father's (The Master) top cock fighter - the means of income for the whole property. George takes great pride in his master's approval but Kizzy looks down on it; but wants him settled down and married. George believes the way to do that is by being the Master's right hand man. He anticipates this will provide him with the opportunity to make a name for himself and eventually buy his own...
The war is over, the Confederacy having surrendered, freeing the slaves. Mr. Harvey invites the slaves to stay if they wish, maybe sharecropping. The rest of the plantation owners, a senator and the sheriff have a meeting to discuss options, with the senator declaring that he's come to buy a lot of land. When tempers flare, the sheriff leaves as he is "bound to uphold the law". President Lincoln is dead, shot by a white man. The former Harvey slaves' encampment is visited by masked men with torches on horses and Harvey is warned to "keep out of it".