Please join us for our remaining three events of 2017

waiting for lefty by work of art productions and vito marcantonio forum

We have three (3)! VMF events that we are either sponsoring or co-sponsoring to round-out the year. A stage reading of “Waiting for Lefty” on 12/10/17, a fundraiser for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico on 12/16/17, and a free reading circle event on 12/20/17.
You can contact us for details on any of these events, however, we really would appreciate you reading everything here first:
WAITING FOR LEFTY
Sunday, December 10th at 3pm at
The Roy Arias Stages (2nd floor)
777 8th Ave between 47th and 48th Streets
Tickets will be $10 at the door.
or a reservation can be made by emailing
Directed by Art Bernal with an introduction by Gerald Meyer and an epilogue by Roberto Ragone as Vito Marcantonio, this stage reading will be dedicated to Marcantonio, who was born on December 10, 1902.

Description of the play from Wikipedia:
The play is composed of seven vignettes. The first takes place at a union meeting of taxi drivers, where union boss Harry Fatt tries dissuading the men from striking. A few drivers ask of the whereabouts of Lefty, their elected chairman. Fatt reminds them their elected committee is already present, then lets Joe, one of the drivers, speak. Joe maintains he is not a “red boy”, citing his status as a wounded war veteran, but complains of how any driver who expresses dissatisfaction with working conditions is labelled a “red” (slang for communist) by the bosses. He says his wife has convinced him to strike for higher wages.

In the second vignette, set a week before the union meeting, Joe comes home to find that the furniture, not yet paid for, was repossessed. Joe’s wife Edna urges him to lead a strike and demand a living wage. Joe argues that strikes do not work and that he would lose money while on strike. Edna criticizes the union as only benefitting its bosses. Joe admits the union bosses are “racketeers” but refuses to stand up to them. Edna announces she is going back to her old boyfriend, since he earns a living. Joe protests, and Edna implores Joe to start a workers’ union without the racketeers. Joe, swept up by her passion, tells her he is going to find Lefty Costello.

The next vignette features Fayette, an industrialist, and Miller, a lab assistant. Fayette raises Miller’s salary as a reward for his loyalty, and reassigns him to a new laboratory where Miller will help create poisonous gas for chemical warfare. Miller loses enthusiasm, but Fayette believes the world is on the brink of war, and that the U.S. must be ready. Miller grows distraught, reminiscing about his brother who died in the previous war. Fayette expects Miller to provide a weekly confidential report on the project’s leader Dr. Brenner. Miller refuses to do any “spying”, insisting he would rather lose his job than agree to such terms. Miller’s outrage grows and he punches Fayette in the mouth.

In the fourth vignette, Florence tells her brother Irv that she loves her boyfriend Sid. Irv urges her to break up with Sid, since he earns too little money as a taxi driver. Sid enters and Irv exits. Sid says he knows he is like “rat poison” to her family and knows that she is reconsidering whether to marry him. He laments their lowly status as “dogs” under the thumb of powerful rich men. He is upset that his brother, a college boy, has swallowed the “money men”‘s propaganda and joined the navy to fight foreigners who are, ultimately, just like himself. Florence says she will follow Sid anywhere, but he tells her to be realistic.

Back at the union meeting, Fatt brings up Tom Clayton, who took part in an unsuccessful strike in Philadelphia. Clayton says that his experience taught him that Fatt is right. Clayton’s brother then runs on stage and outs Clayton as a company spy who has been breaking up various unions for years. Clayton leaves and his brother voices skepticism of Fatt’s supposed ignorance of Clayton’s true identity.

The next vignette occurs in the hospital office of the elderly Dr. Barnes. The younger Dr. Benjamin enters, upset that he has been replaced for surgery on a patient in the charity ward by an incompetent doctor named Leeds, the nephew of a senator. Barnes reveals that the hospital is shuttering the charity ward because it is losing money. Furthermore, they are firing some staff, including Benjamin. Though Benjamin has seniority, he is being fired because he is Jewish. Barnes takes a phone call and learns that the patient has died in surgery. Benjamin grows furious, saying he was skeptical of the ideas of radicals until now, and vowing to fight on even if it means death.

A man named Agate talks to the taxi drivers, insulting their weakness and insulting Fatt. Fatt and his armed guard try to detain him, but Agate eludes them. Agate proclaims that if “we’re reds because we wanna strike, then we take over their salute too!” He makes a Communist salute. Agate incites the drivers with fiery rhetoric about the rich killing them off. He tells them to “unite and fight!” and not to wait for Lefty, who may never arrive. A man runs in and reports that Lefty has just been found, shot dead. Agate yells to his fellow union men, “Workers of the world… Our Bones and Blood!” and leads them in a chorus of “Strike!”

Hurricane Relief Fundraiser for Puerto Rico
Dec 16th, 4PM-8PM
The Hurricane Fundraiser relief effort for Puerto Rico has been moved to 12/16/17. We will have more info on how you can help so please stay tuned!

i-vote-my-conscience by annette t rubinsteinChelsea Rising Reading Circle | Dec 20th, 6PM-8PM
On the third Wednesday of every month, The VMF has been sponsoring a reading circle run by Co-chair Gerald Meyer, on I Vote My Conscience by Annette T. Rubinstein. There is no admission charge and being that this is the final installment in the series–this event will end with a celebration–so don’t miss it!
Penn South Reading Room
339 W 24th St
New York, NY 10011

What’s been happening around the VMF

If Only I Were That Warrior_alt coverThe last event we hosted was a great success and we want to thank everyone who made it out to the screening of If Only I Were That Warriorthe first full-length feature film from award winning independent filmmaker, Valerio Ciriaci, who was on hand at the event and participated in a panel discussion and Q&A session about the film.

Our good friend and longtime VMF member, Gary Bono, wrote an excellent review of the event for the People’s World that you can read here. Please share it on your interwebs!

Aside from that, our three-weekly occurring Chelsea Rising Reading Circle continue with VMF Co-Chairman, Gerald Meyer discussing Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician by Annette T. Rubinstein. If you are interested in being a part of the reading circle, or if you are looking for more information, please see below…

We look forward to seeing you there!

If Only I Were That Warrior: A Documentary Film by Valerio Ciriaci

If Only I Were That Warrior - a film by Valerio Ciriaci

The Vito Marcantonio Forum proudly presents a free screening of: If Only I Were That Warrior, with a Q & A with its director, Valerio Ciriaci

Admission: Free
Sat. Oct. 7th, 2017 | From 1:00PM to 4:00PM

Community Room
Mulberry Street Public Library
10 Jersey St. (btw Lafayette and Mulberry Sts.)

If Only I Were That Warrior explores Italy’s Fascist government’s near-forgotten invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, which was spurred on by Mussolini’s lust to avenge the Ethiopian people’s successful defense of their independence by defeating, in 1896, the Italian Army at Adwa. The second invasion smashed Ethiopia’s resistance through overwhelming force aided by the use of poison gas and other atrocious methods.

The documentary deftly illuminates this event through an exploration of the reaction—in Italy, Ethiopia, and the United States—to the erection of a monument to the leader of the Fascist invasion, General Rodolfo Graziani, in his hometown outside of Rome. Valerio Ciriaci’s daring direction advances this complex story by moving from Italy to Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian community in the United States. Isaak Lipzin’s photography presents stunning tableaux of these contrasting backgrounds. Along the way, we meet unforgettable Italians and Ethiopians determined that fascist victories not be celebrated.

In a very real sense, If Only I Were That Warrior is the Italian-Ethiopian analog to Ken Burnes and Lynn Novic’s Viet Nam War, and like that masterpiece, it alludes to a chance for reconciliation. In this way, Ciriaci and his colleagues have created a transcendent and important work.

Free Admission; Light Refreshments

Upcoming Event: The VMF / Chelsea Rising Reading Circle, on Wed. 10/18, 6:00 to 8:00, in Penn South’s Community Room 339, W 24thSt., will continue its study of Annette T. Rubinstein’s, I Vote My Conscience: Vito Marcantonio’s Debates, Speeches, and Writings.

Sixth Session of the VMF / Chelsea Rising Reading Circle 

i-vote-my-conscience by Annette T RubinsteinThe Vito Marcantonio Forum and Chelsea Rising are sponsoring a joint Reading Circle that meets on the third Wednesday of every month, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, in Penn South’s Community Room at 339 West 24th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves., closer to 9th Ave.). The Community Room has its own entrance which is under an awning proudly announcing “Community Room.” The sixth session will take place on Wed. Sept. 20, 2017 from 6:00 to 8:00.
Our text, I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein, is an invaluable source for all those interested in studying the life and work of seven-term (1934-36; 1938-50), American Labor Party (ALP) Congressman, Vito Marcantonio, who courageously represented East Harlem and the entire American Left. In addition to his Congressional work, Marc served as Chairperson of the ALP, and ran for Mayor in 1949, under its banner.
I Vote My Conscience presents: useful Introductory matter; excerpts from Marcantonio’s debates and speeches from each of his seven terms in office; a special section on his work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people; and lastly excerpts from his legal briefs fin defense of W. E. B. DuBois, William Patterson, and other victims of McCarthyism.
The Sept. 20st session will focus on Marcantonio’s Congressional speeches and debates during his fifth term in office, pp. 193 to 221 in IVMC. Copies of I Vote My Conscience will be on sale for $10, or can be purchased in advance by sending a $13 check to Gerald Meyer 381-2nd St. Bklyn. 11215.

Join us for an exclusive screening Pane Amaro (Bitter Bread)

The Vito Marcantonio Forum is proud to present a screening for Pane Amaro (Bitter Bread). The movie is “… without doubt the best documentary film ever produced about the Italian American experience.”

Join the original producers and directors for an exclusive screening of this breakthrough feature. This free event will feature a Q&A at the end of the screening. For more information on the event, please click here.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum / Chelsea Rising Reading Circle

i-vote-my-conscience by Annette T RubinsteinThe Vito Marcantonio Forum and Chelsea Rising are sponsoring a joint Reading Circle that meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 6:00 PM in Penn South’s Community Room at 339 West 24th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves., closer to 9th Ave.). The Community Room has its own entrance which is under an awning proudly announcing “Community Room.” We will convene our fourth session on Wed. July 19TH 2017 at 6:00 PM.

Our text, I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein, is an invaluable source for all those interested in studying the life and work of seven-term, American Labor Party (ALP) Congressman, Vito Marcantonio, who courageously represented East Harlem and the entire American Left.

I Vote My Conscience presents: useful Introductory matter; excerpts from Marcantonio’s debates and speeches from each of his seven terms in office; a special section on his work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people; and lastly excerpts from his legal briefs for W. E. B. DuBois and other victims of McCarthyism. In addition to his Congressional work, Marc served as Chairperson of the ALP, and ran for Mayor in 1949, under its banner.

The June 21st session will focus on Marcantonio’s Congressional speeches and debates from his third term in office, pp. 137 to 168. Copies of I Vote My Conscience will be on sale for $10, or can be purchased in advance by sending a $13 check to Gerald Meyer 381-2nd St. Brooklyn. 11215.

Upcoming VMF Event

Pane Amaro (Bitter Bread), the best full-length documentary film ever produced about the Italian-American experience, will be screened on Sat. August 12, from 1:00 to 4:30, with a Q&A with its director Gianfranco Norelli and co-producer Suma Kurian, at the Community Room of the Mulberry Street Public Library located at 10 Jersey Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry Streets). Free admission/light refreshments served.

Next Reading Circle will be June 21, 2017 at 6PM in NYC.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum  / Chelsea Rising 

The Vito Marcantonio Forum and Chelsea Rising have launched a joint Reading Circle that meets on the third Wednesday of the month @ 6:00PM in Penn South’s Community Room at 339 West 24th Street (between 8th  & 9th Aves., closer to 9th Ave.). The Community Room has its own entrance which is under an awning proudly announcing “Community Room.” The Reading Circle’s second meeting was as successful as our first. We will convene our third session on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 6:00PM. 

Our text, I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein, is an invaluable source for all those interested in studying the life and work of seven-term, American Labor Party (ALP) Congressman, Vito Marcantonio, who courageously represented East Harlem and the entire American Left.

I Vote My Conscience presents: useful Introductory matter; excerpts from Marcantonio’s debates and speeches from each of his seven terms in office; a special section on his work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people; and lastly excerpts from his legal briefs for W. E. B. DuBois and other victims of McCarthyism. In addition to his Congressional work, Marc served as Chairperson of the ALP, and ran for Mayor in 1949, under its banner.

The June 21st session will focus on Marcantonio’s Congressional speeches and debates from his first second in office.  Copies of I Vote My Conscience will be on sale for $10, or can be purchased in advance by sending a $13 check to Gerald Meyer 381-2nd St. Bklyn. 11215.

Gerald Meyer, Co-Chair VMF

VMF and Chelsea Rising Launch Reading Circle!

The Vito Marcantonio Forum  and the Chelsea Rising will launch their joint Reading Circle on Wed. April 19 @ 6:30 in Penn South’s CommunityRoom at 339 West 24th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves., closer to 9th Ave.). The Community Room has its own entrance which is under an awning proudly announcing “Community Room.” 

Our text, I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and Writings of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein, is an invaluable source for all those interested in studying the life and work of the American Labor Party (ALP) Congressman, who represented East Harlem so well. I Vote My Conscience presents: excerpts from Marcantonio’s debates and speeches from each of his seven terms in office as the; a special section on Marc’s work on behalf of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican people; and lastly excerpts from his legal briefs for W. E. B. DuBois and other victims of McCarthyism. In addition to his Congressional work, Marc became Chairperson of the ALP, and ran for Mayor in 1949, under its banner.

Marc’s eloquence, brilliance, and political acumen resulted in his becoming the Spokesperson for the American Left. He fell dead outside City Hall Park at fifty-one years old.

Our first session will discuss the front matter (two introductions and bio of Annette) of I Vote My Conscience. Copies of I Vote My Conscience will be on sale for $10 at our meetings or in advance, by mail by sending a $13 check to Gerald Meyer 381-2nd St. Bklyn. 11215.

Subsequent meetings will be held on the third Wednesdays of each month. Wed. April 19; Wed. May 17; Wed. June 21; Wed. July 19; Wed. Aug. 16; Wed. Sept. 20; Wed. Oct. 18; Wed. Nov. 15; Wed. Dec. 20.

Gerald Meyer, Co-Chair VMF

Beloved Comrades: Annette Rubinstein & Vito Marcantonio: March 3rd, 2017

Gerald Meyer and Stephen Siciliano

Present

Beloved Comrades: The Political and Personal Partnership of Annette T. Rubinstein (1912-2007) and Vito Marcantonio (1902-1954)

Sponsored by the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF)

Annette Rubinstein“Beloved Comrades: The Political and Personal Partnership of Annette T. Rubinstein and Vito Marcantonio” is a presentation by Gerald Meyer, author of Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician, and Stephen Siciliano, screenwriter and novelist, that explores the relationship of the renown Marxist literary critic and the seven-term American Labor Party congressman from East Harlem. The event will take place on Saturday March 4, from 3:00pm to 5:00pm, in the Community Room of the Mulberry Street Public Library, 10 Jersey St. (btw Lafayette and Mulberry Sts.). Meyer will discuss the relationship between the seven-term American Labor Party Congressman and the political activist, Marxist literary historian, Siciliano will explore Annette’s analysis of Percy Shelly and Lord Byron, who Annette proved were revolutionary poets. The event will be chaired by Gil Fagiani. Free Admission / Light Refreshments

Gil Fagiani, a founding member of the VMF and co-curator of the Italian American Writers Association, is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently, A Blanquito in El Barrio.
Gerald Meyer, a Co-Chair of the VMF and Prof. at Hostos Com. Col. (CUNY), is author of Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician, co-editor of The Lost World of Italian American Radicalism, and numerous articles.
Stephen Siciliano, a founding member of the VMF, is the author of Vedette or Conversations with the Flamenco Shadows andThe Sidewalk Smokers Club, who also writes for Marcantoniana: Items from the Life and Times of the Marvelous Vito Marcantonios.

First annual Vito Marcantonio Award

 

Melissa Mark-Viverito

Roberto Ragone with Melissa Mark-Viverito and Gerald Meyer

Melissa Mark-Viverito was honored at a dinner February 5th, 2017 sponsored by the Vito Marcantonio Forum. In accepting the Forum’s award, she described how her opponents in her run for Speaker used her support of Lopez Rivera to “bait” her. Despite that, she said, she remained in the forefront of a national campaign to convince President Obama to grant clemency to López Rivera, a campaign that was ultimately successful. She said, “If congressman Marcantonio was present today, alive today, he would support the struggle and the campaign to free Lopez Rivera”

Oscar López Rivera is a Puerto Rican independence activist who was one of the leaders of the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN). In 1977 he was arrested and tried by the United States government for seditious conspiracy to commit robbery, transport firearms and explosives with intent to destroy government property. López Rivera maintained that according to international law he was an anticolonial combatant and could not be prosecuted by the United States government. Nevertheless, on August 11, 1981, López Rivera was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in federal prison. On December 31, 1988 he was sentenced to an additional 15 years in prison for attempting to escape from the Leavenworth federal prison.

President Bill Clinton offered Rivera and thirteen other convicted FALN members conditional clemency in 1999, but López Rivera rejected it on the grounds that all his compatriots should receive clemency.

On January 17, 2017, President Barack Obama commuted López Rivera’s sentence and was scheduled for release from prison on May 17, 2017, after almost 35 years in prison. He had been incarcerated longer than any other member of the FALN.

Marcantonio was one of the most progressive and forward thinking representatives who ever served in Congress. He represented a district centered in East Harlem from 1934 to 1936 and again from 1938 to 1950.

Viverito called Marcantonio “a visionary leader – the kind we need at this moment, one who fights on behalf of those who are marginalized” She went on to say that her moral compass dictates that to fight for everyone is the only way to really make progress for the 99%.

She also related the Congressman’s well-known concern for the rights of the foreign born to today’s reality. In the case of attacks on Muslim communities and immigrant brothers and sisters, he would have been at the forefront and his voice would have been really loud, and unwavering! That’s the leadership we need today,” she said.

VMF Co-Chair Gerald Meyer echoed Viverito in stressing the timeliness of Marcantonio’s message. This is the time for people to come together as broadly as possible, he urged, and to push back against Trump and his policies, especially at this moment his ban on asylum seekers from seven predominately Muslim nations.

Meyer further noted that Marcantonio had always strongly opposed McCarthyism and anti-communism in all its forms. He reported that Marcantonio took the position that anti-communism was the road to fascism.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum is an educational, cultural and historical organization dedicated to preserving the Congressman’s legacy.

Readers can enjoy a reading of “Litany of San Vito,” a poem dedicated to Marcantonio by playwright, actor and historian LuLu LoLo Pascale, a lifelong resident of Marcantonio’s former East Harlem district.

by Gabe Falsetta