Synopsis by Craig Butler
Based upon the African-American folk tale, John Henry and the Inky Poo opens on a dark, stormy night. A woman is painfully giving birth alone. All of a sudden, a brilliant flash of lightning and crash of thunder strike, and her son John Henry appears, full grown. A giant of a man, John Henry is blessed with tremendous strength and enormous self-confidence. Soon after his birth, John Henry comes across railroad tracks and a train and knows his calling: to drive steel and build the railroads that will allow his country to grow. John Henry goes to work, but almost immediately a threat to all of the workers appears: a machine (inky poo) that is said is able to do the work of ten men. Contemptuous of such a claim, John Henry challenges the machine to a race, believing firmly that a man can do anything a machine can, "if he only has the mind to do it." John Henry's mother is against the race, fearful of what might happen, but John Henry must go through with it and prove the value of a human. He does indeed beat the machine at the steel driving race, but at the cost of his own life.