Vivian Potter, who as a young Southern illiterate girl who had lost her husband and had a child to raise, was hired by the wealthy Rebecca Whitmore and brought to Chicago to work for them. She raised her daughter, Ruth Potter, who was full of resentment, in the Whitmore mansion and sent her to school being the only black in an all-white family.

When Generations debuts in March of 1989, Vivian no longer works for the Whitmore family, now attends college and lives with her daughter and son-in-law, Henry Marshall, who was able to finance his own business, Marshall's Chicago Ice Cream, and provide a prosperous life for himself and his family.