''Freedom Song'' is told in flashbacks from the perspective of Owen Walker, a high school student in the fictional town of Quinlan, Mississippi in the early 1960s. Growing up in an insulated black community, Owen is oblivious to the white supremacy that still reigned in his town until he has a run-in with racists at a local bus station. While waiting for the bus, five-year-old Owen wanders unknowingly into the "Whites Only" diner. His father, Will, soon follows quickly behind and is forced by white diner attendants to spank his son in public. Will later tells his son, "someday you'll be eating at this counter". But this scene of public humiliation leaves a lasting scar on their relationship.