Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg is Odessa Cotter, a quietly dignified woman who works as a housekeeper for Miriam Thompson (Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek). When Odessa honors the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott by walking an exhausting nine miles to and from work, Miriam offers her a ride. Defying both Miriam's racist husband (Dwight Schultz) and the powerful White Citizen's Council, Miriam and Odessa put their lives in danger for civil rights. Their shared experiences draw them closer as a deep respect and lasting friendship forms. Together, in a difficult world of black versus white, they manage to discover a common ground.