An activist takes another look at 1940s murder

Tribune columnist

Joe Allen is standing on the quiet Pilsen sidewalk in front of a saloon named Simone's, at 960 W. 18th St., and when we walk in all is lively, conversation and laughter filling the handsome space along with so, so many people for a pre-cocktail hour Friday.

"I am here at least once a week, more often when the weather's nice," says Allen, who lives a couple of blocks away, as we settle into a relatively quiet back room and, having drinks (he a beer, me a vodka), start talking about his remarkable book, "People Wasn't Made to Burn" (Haymarket Books) and the even more extraordinary story it tells.

The book's subtitle is "A True Story of Race, Murder, and Justice in Chicago," and though those first two elements — race and murder — have been a part of the landscape here almost forever in sad and ample supply, the latter — justice — has not always been so easy to find.


This is an excerpt of a piece that ran in full in Printers Row Journal, delivered to Printers Row members with the Sunday Chicago Tribune and by digital edition via email.

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