After returning home from Martin Luther King's funeral, Reverend Tom Hayward, [Lou Gossett Jr.] travels to his hometown of Carthage, Alabama. It's got a Black majority population, but it's owned by the white Tayman family.
When a young Black girl is assaulted by a local policeman, Tom leads a group of Blacks to the office of the county prosecutor to protest peacefully. Instead of justice, Tom is severely beaten by Sheriff Johnson; a man who has had a twenty year rule of terror. A Black man is killed during a campaign to get Blacks voters registered and Tom decides he must run for Sheriff, despite threats to his family.
The fight for justice begins, but the difference is the White have guns and have proved they are ready to use them while the Black community will retaliate only with forgiveness...and their votes for Tom!!