1954, Bernard Garrett wants to get into real estate but encounters racism that prevents him from being a successful real estate investor. After a chance encounter with wealthy club owner Joe Morris, he convinces Joe to be his co-investor. Together they convince Matt Steiner, a white man, to pose as the front of the company in meetings to facilitate the sales. Eventually, they become extremely successful in Los Angeles real estate, with the two teaching Matt the basics of real estate investing. The three secure a number of properties in L.A. and effectively integrate a number of previously segregated neighborhoods by selling and renting to black families. After this success, he sets his sights on the local bank in his Texas hometown to give loans to the black residents. Racist bank practices had excluded black people from receiving loans for small businesses and home ownership. Joe protests the idea at first but eventually relents and the three move to Texas.
Matt buys the bank, fronting for Bernard and Joe, but the local townspeople are extremely suspicious of this move. A bank executive tracks the records of the loans and discovers that they're giving loans to black people, follows Matt and discovers that his partners are black, then threatens them with exposure which would cause "a run on the bank." Matt persuades Joe and Bernard to purchase a second bank and put him in charge of it despite his inexperience. The racist bank executive calls in a federal investigator who checks the records of Matt's bank and discovers numerous infractions attributable to Matt's carelessness. Matt, Bernard and Joe get arrested for violating federal banking laws.
Facing a 50-year prison term, Matt takes a plea deal, falsely testifying that he was duped by Bernard and Joe. The next day, Bernard testifies passionately about black people being given the same opportunity for upward mobility as whites. He and Joe are convicted and serve time in prison; upon release, they go with Bernard's wife Eunice to live in the Bahamas in two homes which Matt had purchased for them with money Bernard had entrusted to him for that purpose the night before Bernard's testimony.