Produced by Public Forum Productions, Ltd. and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities,  American Playhouse, foundations, corporations and dozens of unions, The Killing Floor premiered on American Playhouse in 1984. Directed by Bill Duke. More in my recommendations for overlooked Black films streaming: The very last sentence of the film, it not only points to all the work left to be done but also despairingly acknowledges the immeasurable amount of knowledge and records already irretrievably forgotten. Even though the film has the look and feel of a made-for-television film, this is the type of great drama that we could use today, but most gatekeepers would not have the stones to actually make. The extensive background research guiding Lee’s script is realized not only in the film’s depiction of the unionization process, but also in the language employed by the characters, as well as in the archival footage used as interstitials between scenes. Directed by the great actor and longtime journeyman filmmaker Bill Duke, the film stages personalized experiences of the Great Migration, the return of soldiers from the Great War, the racial dynamics in Chicago leading up to the white riots of 1919, and most of all the labor conditions of the city’s meatpacking industry around the same time—about 15 years after that labor scene had been recorded into history from a much different perspective by The Jungle. The series was to be called “Made in USA”  and was meant to be aired under the banner of PBS’s American Playhouse (1982-96), which is where The Killing Floor premiered in 1984 before playing at festivals including Sundance and Cannes. He’s speaking hopefully about the journey to Chicago, and the plainly foreboding title comes in over an image of the train as if to undercut what he’s saying. This book details the wave of racist violence that swept the United States in 1919, through the lens of Black armed resistance and freedom struggle. A new 4K digital restoration brings back this powerfully authentic historical drama, with events and characters drawn from real life. Duke made The Killing Floor for PBS and it definitely has a TV movie feel and approach to narration. When he lands a job as a laborer on “the killing floor” of a giant Chicago meatpacking plant, he finds a place seething with racial antagonism.
Remembering Red Summer — Which Textbooks Seem Eager to Forget, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back. Highlights the need for intersectionality between economics and race. This is our opp, A test-by-test chronicle of the COVID-19 cattle ca, “Right now it’s easy to lose sight that there, Did you happen to see our interview with Aaron Sor, Something to keep you occupied besides the glowing, The Dig has had a lot of food and drinks writers a, detailed the research that prompted the project, courtesy the Aug 1, 1990 issue of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, 100,000 AT RISK, AS EVICTION MORATORIUM ENDS, COLUMBIA GAS EXPLOSION SETTLEMENT MOVES FORWARD, STATE WIRE: HERE’S WHAT EXPERTS SAY WE CAN EXPECT AFTER ELECTION DAY, THE NEXT EPISODE: BLACK LIBERATION ORGANIZERS DISCUSS WHERE MOVEMENT IS HEADED, TRANSIT BREAKDOWN: AS ALWAYS, THE MOST VULNERABLE ARE IMPACTED, YOU FIRST: A RESPONSE TO BPD’S APPARENT THREAT TO STUDENT PROTESTERS, DEAR READER: WHAT BURNING WEED IN CALI MEANS FOR MASS. PO Box 73038 Washington, D.C. 20056 I’ll ramble too long if I try to tackle every aspect, but giving depth to “scabs” was a beautiful idea. The established organizers hint around a certain point—that they’re quite pleased to have a high-ranking black member among them specifically because they’re counting on Custer to curtail the use of non-unionized black laborers during future strikes. No wonder I wasn’t aware of this film until recently, it’s the kind of film they don’t want us to know we have made in the past. Duke’s composition of the dramatic scenes for the most part utilizes the standard visual syntax of television drama, but many of the film’s other formal choices are quite daring—specifically the use of newsreel footage, and most of all two incredibly atypical uses of onscreen text. And the most thorough account of its decades-long financing woes is courtesy the Aug 1, 1990 issue of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, which featured a piece quite pointedly headlined “No Place for Labor on PBS?”. The dialogue (and the narration especially) isn't the most subtle, but by the second half there are some surprisingly sophisticated debates about race and labour. Catch me with the Vocelli Pizza Union (VPU). Set during World War I, two African-American men deal with racism in the workplace and the labor union. In William Tuttle’s book [Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919, 1970] I happened upon a footnote in which I discovered the two main characters in The Killing Floor: Frank Custer and Heavy Williams. And in all that The Killing Floor presents a stark and unsensationalized depiction of American racism during the period in question—a characteristic made even more notable because it also declines to represent “whiteness” as anything more than a malicious bogeyman lingering just offscreen: That “identity,” while not yet attached to the Polish immigrants working alongside black Americans in the film’s stockyard circa 1917, had by then been granted to the city’s Irish population, who are represented in Duke’s images by old ladies and teenagers menacing from stoops and street corners… and later on when some of the archival newsreel footage depicts the burning and destruction of homes in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, at that point mostly populated by Lithuanian and Polish emigres, Custer’s narration attributes the crime to “white men in blackface”—alluding to contemporary accounts that credit the arson to a specific Irish gang. Sophisticated arguments about labour, didactic voice overs, some good but not great performances, and a muddy, cluttered compostion, because 80s TV. (MR).

Rich in characters and played against a canvas red with the blood of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, this critically acclaimed independent film tells a true story of how a group of black and white slaughterhouse workers attempted to break race barriers to build an interracial union for the first time in the brutal Chicago Stockyards. The movie's a bit of a slow burn, carefully depicting the attempts of the meat-packing workers of 1919 Chicago to form an integrated union, and building toward an electrifying finale in which the protagonist is presented with a truly complex, and very real, choice. Rassbach envisioned Duke’s film as the first entry in a 10-part program dramatizing the history of labor organizing and relations in the United States. Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Farina and Moses Gunn star in the film, which won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award. Produced by Public Forum Productions, Ltd. and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Playhouse, foundations, corporations and dozens of unions, The Killing Floor premiered on American Playhouse in 1984.

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