Journey Proud is the story of four white children growing up in the early 1960s in a middle-class neighborhood in Columbia, South Carolina. The lives of Annie Mackey, Buck McCain, Twig Roebuck, and his big sister, Briddy, intersect with Naomi Portee, a young black woman who arrives on a hot August day in 1963 to care for Annie. Naomi, who longs for a child of her own, reluctantly takes the job with the Mackey household. She joins other housekeepers who ride dirty city buses from one side of town to the other to work for white families in Shimmering Pines, a place of ranch-style brick homes, "woody" station wagons, skinny pine trees and heat-stricken grass. Annie, 12, Buck 13, Twig, 12, and Briddy, 15, spend much of their time at the old Montague farm which spreads out gracefully along one side of Shimmering Pines. The farm has long been fallow, but it remains a sanctuary for wildlife, for the children and for a magnificent Southern live oak tree which the youngsters lovingly call "the Old Lady." It is underneath the Old Lady, on a cold March afternoon in 1964, that a mulatto baby is born to Briddy. Annie, Buck and Twig are on hand for the birth of the infant, which Briddy can't possibly keep. "There can't be no baby, so there ain't no baby," Buck declares, wielding a rusty shovel with which he plans to bury the infant underneath the Old Lady. What becomes of the tree, the baby, the children and Naomi, is at the core of a remarkable story that examines the racially-charged times of the early 1960s. This coming-of-age tale set in the South during the civil rights movement exposes the inequities of the period and shows how childhood innocence is often replaced by harsh realities. Along with Naomi, the youngsters are simultaneously bound together and pushed apart by rules - written and unwritten - that dictate everything from where they can pee to who they can love. Journey Proud incorporates national events - the March on Washington and the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. The story is also infused with events which took place during that era in South Carolina. In the fall of 1963, significant desegregation of public schools was still several years away, but parochial schools around the state were admitting their first black students. Classified advertisements in the real estate section of Columbia newspapers described starter homes in "COLORED" neighborhoods. And when a federal court order ruled that public parks in the state must admit "Negroes," the parks - including a popular one just outside Columbia - closed before Labor Day to avoid integration. "Journey proud" is an old Southern expression describing the anticipation one feels before beginning a long trip. Join Annie, Buck, Twig, Briddy and Naomi as they begin theirs.