"Master Harold" is what the black employees are ordered to call young Hally, the son of a well-to-do white couple who own a fashionable tea room. Hally wanders into the establishment one day and sees two black male workers practicing for an upcoming ballroom competition by dancing together. The two employees and Hally exchange kidding rebukes, not meant to offend anyone. But after Hally receives some bad news about his father, he takes out his anger upon the workers. Efforts to smooth out the situation erupt into an all-out racial conflict.