James Mink (Louis Gossett, Jr.), a successful black millionaire living in Toronto during the 1850's with his wife Elizabeth (Kate Nelligan), arranges to have his mulatto daughter Mary married to a white man. Though he offers a considerable dowry, he cannot find an acceptable suitor until he meets William Johnson (Peter Outerbridge), a wealthy American horse dealer.
Largely to please her father, and oddly attracted to the charming American, Mary agrees to marry William Johnson and a honeymoon in London is planned. However, on her wedding night, Mary discovers to her horror that her husband is no horse trader, but a ruthless and mercenary trader of slaves. He rapes and kidnaps Mary, taking her to Virginia where she is auctioned to the highest bidder. A Mr. Sherman Clay (Winston Rikert) buys Mary, takes her to his Virginia plantation where she is abused and set to work in deplorable conditions.
Miserable and alone, Mary is at last befriended by Elroi (Michael Jai White) and Indigo (Ruby Dee), Sherman Clay's Mammy and her son. With his help, Mary is able to steal paper, pen and stamp, and send an urgent plea to her father.
James and his wife, Elizabeth, on hearing the news, abandon their life of comfort and embark upon a dangerous odyssey into the American South. To attempt the rescue, James realizes he will have to pose as his wife's slave.
This is the story of the greatest challenge the Mink family has ever faced a perilous journey a heroic rescue a desperate flight to freedom.