In Alabama, relations among different races are not good. A white lady is raped by a black man and this sets off a wave of violence perpetrated by the KKK, which castrates a young black man. This causes black people to retaliate. The sheriff of the town, Track Bascomb (Lee Marvin), does not like racism but puts up with it since he wants law and order maintained. He is in bed with a black woman named Loretta Sykes (Lola Falana). Breck Stancill (Richard Burton) is sympathetic to the black people and has bad recollections of what the KKK did to one of his grandparents.