What is Within Our Gates about?
Southern negro Sylvia Landry visits her cousin Alma in the north, where there is less racial prejudice than in her home town of Piney Woods in the deep south, and is anxiously awaiting her fiancé, Conrad. But Alma has designs on Conrad and tricks Sylvia into a compromising situation when he arrives, and he abandons her. Disheartened, she returns to Piney Woods to help a reverend running a school for young negroes. Sylvia learns that the reverend hasn't the heart to turn away poor students, and unless he can raise $5,000 to supplement the $1.49 per child per year that the state supplies, the school will be closed. She goes up north again to try to raise the money and has little success, but meets kindly negro, Dr. V. Vivian, who helps her regain her stolen purse. When she saves a child from being hit by an auto, she herself is slightly injured. But the owner of the car is philanthropist Mrs. Elena Warwick, who is sympathetic to her quest and promises to donate the $5,000 to the school. Her bigoted southern friend, Mrs. Stratton, tries to talk her out of the donation, and Mrs. Warwick gets so incensed she raises the amount to $50,000. Her job done, Sylvia returns to Piney Woods. But Dr. Vivian has fallen in love with Sylvia and goes to Alma to try to find her. There he learns the shocking details of her past and that of her family.