As a man returns home to see his dying father, the story of the alienation between father and son is told in flashback. Purposely letting his daughter's lover get lynched, shooting the lynched man's father when he threatens him with a gun, and the bullying tactics used by him as a Sheriff causes the son to leave. The son now plans to ruin his father and get his Sheriff's badge removed.
Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the 20th century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they'd founded the county's thriving black churches.
New ranch owner Frank Madden, half Indian but posing as white, arrives just as an all white jury finds the three white Shipley brothers who lynched three Indians innocent. There is soon trouble between Frank and the Shipleys who are using Frank's land to graze their cattle. When the brother of one of the Indian victims kills a Shipley, Frank is accused and put in jail. The Shipleys then organize a lynch mob and head for the jail.