Ashes and Embers is an original screenplay by Haile Gerima, about a Vietnam veteran, who, several years after the war, is struggling to come to terms with his role in the war, and his role as a Black person in America. He survives by working odd jobs in Washington, D.C. and living with his girlfriend and her son. When criticism of his alienated behavior come from her and a father figure too often, he runs to the streets or to his grandmother's rural house in Virginia. Her criticism and his memories of the past both send him fleeing again to Los Angeles, where he is surrounded by superficial people who have forgotten how to be compassionate human beings. It is here that the advice of his friends and grandmother combine to transform him from an embittered ex-soldier to a strong and confident man.