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December, 1986

THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Vol.73 No.3
The Killing Floor
By James R. Barrett

Frank Custer was not alone. During the 1919 riot, however, race consciousness dominated thinking on both sides of the color line, and there was little room for those, such as Custer, who straddled that line. "Nigger," Williams shouts, "you done forgot where you come from!"

The film's central theme--the tension between race consciousness and class consciousness--transcends the situation of Chicago's workers during the summer of 1919 and represents a key theme in working-class history. The human drama of Frank Custer's personal dilemma will have a very broad appeal, while the film’s sophisticated analysis will make it a natural focal point for discuss any class dealing with modern American society.
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