The 20th century has just begun in the South and slavery still haunts. In a deep-woods region of Alabama, the tightening noose of Jim Crow is a rude indication of what white people really think of black people’s ‘freedom.’ Still, the black population of Johnson Creek, Alabama, manages to live their lives with abiding faith and hope. The Mobleys–Frank and Joy–are among those who have pinned high hopes both on the future, and on their three daughters, Grace, Mary Nell, and Eva–hopes for good marriages and noble professions. Joy and Frank believe that the Negroes of Johnson Creek have just as much right to advance as anybody up North. But they must let go of the old ways. So they can only react with dismay when their girls show signs that they have ‘the sight’–the gift of seeing the unseen, of knowing the past and future. Through their daughters’ growing strangeness, Joy and Frank glimpse again the world of Joy’s deceased mother, the former slave Ayo. While they do everything possible to discourage their daughters’ connection with the past and future, the gift is not something that you can always give back and trying comes at a dear price.

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