Sam experiences racism when he leaps into elderly black man who is the driver for a wealthy white woman (whose late husband was the State Governor).
The episode does a good job showing the many ways that racism -- both cultural and legal -- made life difficult (even dangerous) for black Americans in the American south.
The episode does not shy away from the harsh and brutal realities, nor does it seek to exploit the situation for cheap, shock value.
At its core, the episode is about Sam trying to save two women; the widower and the grand daughter.
In the original history, the widower dies in a car accident and the grand daughter is the victim of a racially motivated murder.
The widower knows that life is unfair, she tells Sam as much near the end of the episode, but does not want to get involved in changing unjust laws or racist attitudes. She wants to quietly live out her life and follow her daily routine, without facing the ugly realities of her Southern community.
The grand daughter knows that life is unfair -- she has experienced racism and poverty first hand -- and is very eager to change the world, but knows that any effort to challenge the discriminatory attitudes and laws, will be met with violence.
At the episodes end, the widower agrees to take small, but public, steps in favor of civil rights.
The grand daughter lives, but (and this is a small complaint) does not go through any sort of character development. She is essentially the same character at the start of the episode as she was at the end.
Granted, it would be difficult for her character to have much of a story arch and keep it accurate to the time period. In 1955, the career and educational opportunities for black women (especially poor black women in the south) were very limited.
She would be alive to witness the slow pace of change brought about by federal civil right legislation and the federal war on poverty, but the odds are stacked against he getting a college degree and a white collar job.
This the first episode in the series to confront the historic evils of prejudice within the society. Later episodes would deal again with racism as well as interracial relationships, women's rights, the rights of the disabled, and the gay rights movement.
and (even today) the episode is powerful to watch.