Part One: Florida is finishing a new dress for Thelma while making supper. When she goes to the stove, JJ comes over to the dummy where the dress is, puts his head on it and asks his mother if Thelma doesn't look prettier. He holds up the sleeves and asks if his face is one that only a mother could love; she replies 'Only a mother.' JJ then starts dancing with the dummy. Thelma comes out and says it's the first time she's seen two dummies dancing together. JJ says 'Then I'll put down the fake dummy and dance with the real dummy!' and starts dancing with Thelma. Michael, sitting at the kitchen table, says he has to write a composition for English class on the man he most admires, and he's chosen Jesse Jackson since he's done so much for black people. Florida says he's done a lot for all people. Thelma says her dress is beautiful and Florida is better than any French designer. Florida says she'll have a showing of her new fall line next week in the laundry room. Michael says it was hard to decide, since there were so many people like Hank Aaron or Thurgood Marshall, that he felt bad about leaving someone out. JJ says he forgot Elroy Duncan, who invented the hot comb. Thelma asks her mother how she made the dress. She says the top part was from an old blue top, the skirt was from an old red dress and the belt was from their old sofa. JJ says he thinks the old bedroom curtains used to be his shorts. Florida says they used to be Thelma's old pillowcase. James comes out dressed in a nice suit. Florida says he's being interviewed for an assistant foreman's job at a van and storage company. She tells him she feels he will get the job. He asks that since she feels it, if she could get the job for him. He says he feels like it will be another 'door slam.' She says he looks so fine she'd hire him herself. He says if he does get it, he should thank her for giving him the confidence to go get it. Before he leaves, Michael asks if they know he's black. He says they don't ask that on applications anymore but 'the minute I get there, I'll be sure and tell them.' Michael asks if he should still write about Jesse Jackson. He says he leans on Rev. Jackson because 'he's the only real important brother I know personally.' He says that the year before he saw Rev. Jackson outside a hotel getting into a cab. Michael says the Reverend looked him in the eye and said 'Hello, little brother,' then got in the cab and drove away. JJ says that he knows Walter Cronkite personally because every evening he looks at JJ and says 'Good evening.' Thelma asks why he has to write about a man and not a woman and he says all the important people are men. Thelma calls him a male chauvinist and JJ tells her not to call Michael anything to do with Russia. Thelma says she didn't mean Communist and explains that a male chauvinist believes men are superior to women. JJ then says Michael isn't a chauvinist or a Communist: 'He's right on!' Thelma gives several women and JJ keeps saying OJ Simpson because they have a lot in common. She says OJ is a great football player and all JJ is good for is being one of the goal posts. JJ then asks her to name one football player of the opposite sex; she replies, 'Just give us time.' Florida says that women aren't built for contact sports, and JJ says that for some contact sports, 'they're built perfect.' Thelma says that is a typical chauvinist remark, making women sex objects. JJ then jokes, 'That's my ambition!' Florida says that someday women may play football and JJ replies, 'I ain't going out with no chick that looks like Dick Butkus.' Thelma asks why he's dating a girl named Doreen and he says she protects him from muggers. Michael says he's sorry he started the argument. This leads JJ giving great men and Florida and Thelma rebuffing them with women. JJ tells Michael to jump in and he says God created Adam, but Florida says when He saw his 'mistake' He created Eve. JJ says he has a good answer for that but he tells Michael to give it and leaves. Florida says there are a lot of great people and if his choice is Jesse Jackson, he should stick to it. Willona then comes in and admires the dress. Michael asks her who he should write on and she suggests John Wayne. Michael asks what he ever did for black people and she says that he was so busy killing Indians he left them alone. She checks on the tuna casserole Florida is making for her, calling it the best thing Florida cooked for her that she took credit for. Florida asks her what she says when her guests compliment her food. She says she plays it modest: saying she was up all night cooking it. She also says there were three things that led to her divorce: breakfast, lunch and dinner. She does say it took a year and a half before her husband noticed how bad her cooking was. Thelma comes out wearing the dress and she loves it. JJ says it looked better on the dummy. Then Michael announces he is going to write about his mother. Florida says that she's flattered, but she's not famous. Michael says a person doesn't have to be famous to be admired. He says she keeps the family together. JJ then says not to forget her biggest accomplishment: him. Florida tells Michael that the person that really keeps the family together is his father. She says that no matter how bad things get, he never quits. This changes Michael's mind again and he says he'll write about James. Just then, he comes in, saying that he couldn't stand having another door slammed in his face so he never went for the interview. JJ then says, 'In that case, I got a feeling he ain't gonna get the job.'
Part Two: James sees everyone looking at him and tells them to say something. Florida says that there isn't anything to say. James says he knows that she thinks he 'dogged it' but he says he just outsmarted the personnel director so he wouldn't have to go into 'the old putdown routine.' He then effects a nerdy voice and says the personnel director would say his color isn't important but he would look James up and down to see 'how many watermelons a day I can knock off.' He then says the personnel director would ask about his van and storage experience. He says he would be insulted because he moved everything into the apartment with his bare hands. JJ says that he did a great job: 'This house looks professionally vanned and storaged.' James then says it wouldn't get through to the personnel director, who would then ask about his education and that he would say James's sixth-grade education wouldn't matter, but he'd be writing down that there's no way he's going to hire James. Then he says the personnel director would say 'Don't call us, we'll call you' which would be the same as a preacher giving the last rites. He then says that he didn't give them a chance to do that to him, saying 'I fired him before he had a chance to fire me!' Florida says he's just letting off steam and that he doesn't blame him. She says he must feel that 'the whole world is kicking and it's all aimed at him.' Michael asks Thelma if he can use her room to finish his composition and she says yes. Florida asks if he is still going to write about James and he says he isn't sure. She tells Thelma to make some tea. JJ says it is up to them as the older children to lift their father's morale. Thelma says he can start by running away from home. She then says that they need to think of something sensible and the last time JJ did that was-then she says there was no last time. She then says there is a way to make him happy. James and Florida are in their bedroom; she is massaging his head and shoulders while he says that while he was waiting for the bus, he had too much time to think about getting turned down. He jokes that if there were faster bus service, he might have got the job. She says she just knows he'll get the job he wants someday. She says she married the best when she married him. He calls her a great lady and entitled to the best. She says his headache is gone but has been replaced by conceit. He tells here to keep rubbing then says he has his own massage parlor. She says it's rated 'G' for general audiences. He says they should change it to 'PG'. When she says it's the middle of the day he says, 'Not in London, baby!' She says they should have 4:00 tea. They go back into the main room. Thelma asks James if they can talk to him. JJ says they have been having a discussion; Florida says that is like George Foreman having a discussion with Muhammad Ali. Thelma says she is serious. JJ says they need someone with the wisdom of Isaac Hayes and the worldly experience of Meadowlark Lemon. Thelma says that she and JJ will be graduating and they don't know what to do after high school. She says she wants to be a nurse, a teacher or a professional dancer. James says that being a dancer may be a long shot and she needs something solid to fall back on. He says she has the brains to be a doctor, and she gives him a hug and says she was confused and knew he'd straighten her out. JJ then says that he's a great artiste, and they don't become famous until after they're dead and he can't wait that long. James says he could be a commercial artists, working on billboards or magazines. JJ says he could paint some 'muscle dudes,' from their seven-foot shoulders down to their four-inch jockey shorts. Thelma then tells JJ they should leave, but as they do he says he thinks Dad is okay now. James gets angry at their 'jive' and says he should have seen through it. He then turns to Florida and yells about all her saying he was the best. She says he meant it but he says the one thing he doesn't need from them is pity. He then sees a paper on one of the chairs: it's the one Michael wrote on him. He then accuses them of having 'the Militant Midget' in on it. He calls Michael back in and tells him he's going to teach them something he thinks the others are too old to learn: that the worst thing he can do is to con him. He says he knows who he is: "I ain't much, but I'm the best James Evans I can be.' He says he doesn't want anyone to change him into something else. Michael says everything he wrote was what he really felt. Thelma says that Michael and Florida weren't in the room when they decided to try it and that she and JJ are to blame. JJ tells her not to confess until they see their lawyer. Florida then reads what Michael wrote, about how he gets up after getting knocked down, how he gets angry at the world because his family to have what they need, and how he may not have the best education, but he is the best father and there wouldn't be a family without him. She asks if that sounds like a con and says that he should look at Michael and see he means every word. However, James is so embarrassed he cant even look at Michael. He apologizes to him for not believing him. Florida says that some of what they were doing may have ben real and some not, but they were all doing it because they love him. JJ says he did it against his will. He and Thelma start arguing and James says he could have nothing better than a loving family. He then tells Michael to write about someone like Tom Bradley or Julian Bond. He goes to the refrigerator and Michael says he still will write about James, who says he couldn't have made a better choice.
Epilogue: The family is reading Michael's composition when James comes back. He says he went to the interview. He says the personnel director said he was glad he came in because he was going to call James and say they wanted him to work for them. Florida thinks he got the job but James says as they were talking another moving and storage company was taking out all their furniture. The personnel director said they went broke and James told him 'Welcome to the club, baby!'