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April 8, 1984

MISSISSIPPI TODAY
(From National Catholic News Service)

Drama Details Struggle For Unionization

The armistice ending the war, however, undercuts the demand for beef and, consequently, stockyard workers. The union tries to protect its members, but because most blacks have refused to join in what they consider a "white manís fight," they are feared as potential strikebreakers.

In trying to counter this, Frank has some success. But racial tensions erupt in the hot summer of 1919 into a race riot that engulfs the entire city and crushes the union.

It will not be until the 1930s that the meat-packing industry is finally organized on the interracial basis of the earlier union.

In dramatizing this sequence of events, Leslie Leeís script is based on historical research into the official sources and reports recording the activities of these individuals, who later disappear back into anonymity. This dramatic reconstruction is unusually convincing in conveying the social history of a past era and the ordinary people who inhabited it.

Not least among the virtues of this production is its linkage of the union struggle to that of racial equality. As one of the characters points out, the cause of labor is weakened whenever ethnic or racial strife brings dissension among workers. read more>>
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