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April 10, 1984

MORNING NEWS, WILMINGTON, DEL.
THE CLARION-LEDGER, MISSIPPI (Syndicated)

An Enthralling Tale of Unions
'The Killing Floor' is well-written story of Chicago race riot

By Bill Hayden

It is the story of a dream and the men who tried to make it reality before its time had come. It is a story of triumph and personal concern. It is... well, you know, all those high-sounding words dealing with nobility, good intentions, emotional impact and such.

But, most of all, it is engrossing, well-written, well-acted, convincingly filmed television.

Set in the Chicago stockyards during and immediately after World War I, it tells of slaughterhouse workers trying to bring together black migrants from the South and immigrants from Europe into a single, interracial, industry-wide union.

It is an effort doomed to fail because of the deep distrust the blacks have not only of the whites running the stockyards, but also the whites running the union. As the war ends and pressures of recession grow, the union becomes increasingly insistent that all the black workers join. Since most of the drama's action takes place on the killing floor of a slaughterhouse, every confrontation carries with it dramatic tension and the implicit threat of violence: The violence finally comes--not in the yards, but in Chicago race riot 1919. In its wake, thousands of blacks cross picket lines to work in the yards, effectively defeating the union movement for then. read more>>
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