Justice was the 4th episode of Season 4 of the Quantum Leap TV series, also the 57th overall series episode. Directed by Rob Bowman, and written by Toni Graphia, the episode originally aired on NBC-TV on October 9, 1991.
Sam must save the life of a civil rights worker ironically as a member of the Klu Klux Klan.
May 11, 1965 - Alabama, Sam leaps into Clyde (Glenn Edden) just as he is finishing his initiation into the KKK. He is horrified but knows that he has to play along until Al comes along and tells him what’s going on. He’s even more shocked when the initiation is over and the members start behaving as if it is a social gathering. One of the members couldn’t make it because he needed to work on his farm and it didn’t seem like he’d get all the work done in time so they decide to go over there on Sunday after church and help him out. When Al arrives and Sam goes over to talk to him, the leader of that chapter of the KKK follow him. It turns out that this man is Gene (Noble Willingham), his father-in-law, and he tells Sam how proud he is of his decision to join and how he is like a son to him. Al orders Sam to take the man’s proffered hand.
Sam then runs into the forest so he can freak out in peace. The KKK is deeply offensive to him as it goes against everything that his parents taught him when he was younger. Al doesn’t have any data for him yet but wanted to make sure that he was alright after Clyde popped up reciting the oath of the KKK. Al tells Sam that he must continue to pretend to be one of them because he’s probably there to stop them from carrying out a violent act and he won’t know what he’s supposed to do and when if he’s not in on their meetings.
Sam’s father-in-law drives him home and his wife Lilly (Lisa Waltz) talks about their ‘hunting club.’ Clyde’s son is playing with a gun and when Sam chastises it for him he says that his grandfather said that there were black people in the woods (though that wasn’t the word he used). Their black maid, Ada Simpson (Fran Bennett), is right there and a horrified Sam makes his son apologize even if the son doesn’t really understand. Lilly is more annoyed than anything because she thought him joining the KKK meant that he was past that.
Sam works at a government job that oversees voter registration. Black activist Nathaniel Simpson (Michael Beach), Ada’s son, has brought his father to register to vote. Sam’s all ready to get the paperwork but his boss insists on giving him a literacy test. Despite the fact that the man knew the nineteenth president and the eighth amendment (Rutherford B. Hayes and no excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishment respectively), he wasn’t able to read the preamble to the constitution fast enough. The boss claimed the man was reading at twelve words a minute and had to be reading at thirty words a minute. Sam initially sides with Nathaniel, but Al pressures him to stay in character so that he can do what he needs to do, and so, Sam reluctantly sides with his racist boss.
When Sam walks Nathaniel and his father to the car, he tries to apologize but Nathaniel isn’t hearing any of it. Apparently the two were friends in college and Clyde wrote him a lot of letters about how skin color doesn’t matter. He was even the one who urged him to come to register and Nathaniel thinks he set him up. He said that it doesn’t matter if Clyde really meant it because he still said it and angrily drives off. According to Al, this is the man that Sam had come to save and the KKK is going to lynch him soon.
When Sam gets back after a long day of being forced to reject all black people who wanted to register to vote, he volunteers to help Ada with dinner. Sam again tries to apologize for what his son said that morning but Ada isn’t upset by that because she knows he doesn’t mean it and is just parroting his grandfather. She is extremely proud of her son and says she’s going to try to register to vote tomorrow. Sam promises to help her but wants her to talk Nathaniel out of protesting and getting himself killed. Ada says that nothing can change Nathaniel’s mind once it’s made up and, offended, walks away from him.
The son goes out pretending to be a ghost with the KKK hood on his head. Angrily, Sam takes it away from him and the son doesn’t understand because his friend’s father lets him play with his all the time. Sam takes him out to the backyard to teach him to shoot (though the kid is better with the gun than Sam is) and gives him a lesson about tolerance and how skin color doesn’t matter. Lilly overhears this and is growing even more frustrated with what she sees as her husband’s regression.
Then Sam is taken out by the KKK for some important business and Al says that this must be when they grab Nathaniel after he tries to lead a peaceful protest for voting rights. It turns out that they are actually having a party to celebrate Clyde’s initiation. Sam is fine with this, though, since that means that they aren’t out killing Nathaniel. In the middle of the celebration, they get word of Nathaniel’s planned march and go out to ambush him. Sam hurriedly drives down to the church to stop Nathaniel. Nathaniel accuses Sam of being a member of the KKK and Sam admits it, begging Nathaniel to reconsider and save his own life. Nathaniel is reluctant but ultimately agrees to stop…just for that night. He warns that he will march again and that he will ultimately win and Sam sincerely agrees with both of those statements.
When Sam gets home, he makes the mistake of trying to talk Lilly over to the side of racial equality while KKK members are in the area listening. They knew that someone had warned Nathaniel and they believe that Clyde joined to spy for the federal government or just for the black community and so they decide to make them pay. They take Sam down to KKK headquarters and tie him up and plant a bomb in the church. Ada, another adult, and fifteen children are there for choir practice. One of the members threatens to kill Sam when the church was destroyed for lacking proper white pride. Sam tries to plead with his father-in-law to reconsider, saying that he’ll go to jail for the church and if Sam is killed then no one will be able to take care of Lilly and the kid. The father-in-law insists he’s just trying to protect his way of life and that if Sam thinks he would kill him then he doesn’t know him at all. Sam says he doesn’t know any man who would kill innocent people.
Sam tries to break glass to cut his ropes but he is running out of time so he sends Al to the church to warn the children. Unfortunately, the children can’t decide what Al is and start running around once he tells them to leave. Sam isn’t having much luck escaping but then his son shows up and frees him. The pair race down to the church just in time to see it explode. The KKK slowly approach the church and Sam is devastated until he sees Ada leading the children towards safety; Al was able to get through to them after all.
Nathaniel shows up, furious, and charges at the KKK. They respond by putting a noose over his neck and attaching the other end to a truck. They are about to lynch him after all when Sam announces that he agrees with his father-in-law and place a noose around his own neck and stands neck to Nathaniel. He gives a stirring speech about how they may die but the old way of the KKK will die as well and that no one present will ever forget what they’d seen. He tells his son to remember to not be racist. One of the KKK members is eager enough to kill Sam as a traitor but his father-in-law punches the man out. He takes off his hood and frees both Sam and Nathaniel, saying that he already lost one son and wasn’t about to lose another.
Sam, and the son reunite as do Ada and Nathaniel. Nathaniel, who goes on to be the first black mayor in Alabama, laughs and hugs Sam.
In the background, at one point, there are flags on the wall, but they are Confederate States of America flags, not of any state; however at the end of the story, Al says that Nathaniel becomes a mayor in Alabama. This does not expressly mean that the setting is Alabama, however.
Actually, the Alabama flag can be seen when Nathaniel brings his dad to get registered. The front of the building shows the Alabama flag to the left of the door.