Set in the late 1960s, Jim Price (Jim Brown) has recently been elected sheriff of his small town community, Colusa County. Price, an African-American, understands that, despite his monumental win, racism of some in his community runs deep still.
Nothing positive has impacted race relations in over one hundred years and his election strikes fear in Mary (Janet MacLachlan), Jim’s wife. Included in the collective of racists are the outgoing and disgruntled sheriff, John Little (George Kennedy), and the mayor, Jeff Parks (Frederick March). Price receives practically no support from these significant persons in power. In fact, he is undermined in trying to perform his new job. Even Little’s deputy, Bengy Springer (Don Stroud) violently assaults Price’s deputy, Bradford Wilkes (Richard Elkins).