Down in the Delta, a story of family and the importance of legacy, is centered upon the main character, Loretta Sinclair (Alfre Woodard). Poorly educated and addicted to drugs, she lives in the housing project apartment of her mother, Rosa Lynn (Mary Alice). Loretta is the mother of two children, seven-year old Tracy, who is autistic; and thirteen-year old Thomas, who is bright, industrious and, due to her lifestyle, highly responsible.
After a series of trials, including Thomas displaying his knowledge of the gang culture of their Chicago community; Tracy’s need of constant care; and Loretta’s neglect and immaturity, Rosa Lynn is forced to issue an ultimatum. Loretta is told that she will take her children to visit the Sinclair family of the Mississippi Delta or Rosa Lynn will report Loretta to Children’s Services, who will surely put Thomas and Tracy in foster care.