The Learning Tree is based upon the semi-autobiographical novel by acclaimed photographer, writer, director and composer, Gordon Parks. The film shares the same name as Parks’ novel, which was published in 1963. This coming of age film centers upon the quiet and conscientious teenage African-American protagonist, Newt Winger (Kyle Johnson).
Set in Cherokee Flats, Kansas during the 1920s, Newt and his friends spend a great deal of time with each other. One day, they decide to take apples from the trees belonging to Mr. Jake Kiner (George Miner). An altercation occurs when his close friend, Marcus Savage (Alex Clarke), is confronted by Kiner. While Marcus is jailed for his actions, Newt works, as a form of restitution, for Kiner.