Category Archives: press

Vito Marcantonio by Anna Filameno

anna_filameno_so_you_wanna_be_italian

Click on the image above to purchase the book.

VMF member Anna Filameno is a word painter with a vast palette… sometimes romantic and poetic, sometimes explosive! Reading her vignettes is like being on a rollercoaster ride… and when you catch your breath you’re ready for more!”

-Arlene Karian, Author

The following is a chapter from her latest book SO YOU WANNA BE ITALIAN? An Artist’s Journey Exploring Her Roots

The following is a chapter she wrote on Vito Marcantonio

“quintessential man”

Sun in Sagittarius

Congressman

“You only live once and it is best to live one’s life with one’s conscience rather that to temporize or accept with silence those things one believes to be against the interests of one’s people and one’s nation.”

congressman vito marcantonio pictureVITO,

     What is it like to be inside the wind?…

Forever circling… sweeping in like a tsunami?

A mind like yours is mercurial, capricious… and sometimes creates a tidal wave of such enormous dimensions… so compelling that we are forced to give it relevance… We are filled with a sense of optimism… and tremendous power…

You VITO MARCANTONIOurban maverick… were that wave… that tsunami. You lived all your working hours in the dream you belonged to. The rhythm of the streets was your mantra… the immigrants, poverty… the wild and boisterous sounds the wind made as you rushed into your orbit… were all part of the adventure.

Could you have done it all?

The mad attempt to fight the system… defending civil rights and the workingman… and the constant struggle to transform politics?

“I fully realize,” you said, “that men must pay the great price in order to adhere to ideals. I fully realize that one needs guts to pursue such a course…”

And guts you had, Vito

How many streets did you walk down to find the same scattered silences, the same empty eyes staring back at you… the same exaggerated disappoints and contradictions… the same paradoxes. How many of you got lost in the complexity of the indigence that abounded on Ninety Sixth Street to one hundred and Twenty- fifth Street… from Lexington Avenue to the East River?…

Who were they?…

These Italians, Puerto Ricans, Jews, and African Americans? How much of yourself did you see in them?… such that you could not let go? Perhaps this was your way of affirming life… a way of freeing yourself from your past.

East Harlem was your mirror, a place where you could abandon yourself. It was a place where you joined the gamut of human life… life which reflected the very essence of who you are.

You were all part of the same fabric

VITO MARCANTONIO… Fighter for the underprivileged…

And when you felt most alone… surrounded by great opposition… that’s when you fought the hardest. That was when you remained true to yourself… You lived most deeply when you faced the onslauight.

“I vote my conscience.” You said.

And indeed you did, Congressman…

You, VITO, have passed through your transitions nobly… and the triumph of your ideals is stamped in history.

There are times when greatness becomes visible and it lives for a while. It has a moment in the sun and becomes luminous… and we have no choice but to let it dazzle us… and then it slips away… leaving us in a state of reverence.

The streets were your home, VITO, your Mecca to defend. But you had a rendezvous with destiny, didn’t you? And on that rainy day in New York City, your heart made an inevitable and uncompromising conquest. You lost the battle. They found you on the very streets you loved…

The streets that finally claimed you

Michael Parenti’s book presentation was a success!

Michael Parenti at the Vito Marcantonio Forum for Waiting for Yesterday SymposiumMichael Parenti was on hand for the Symposium of the latest of his 25 books entitled Waiting for Yesterday. Pages from a Street Kid’s Life (Bordighera Press).

The New York Public Library hosted the event at their Mulberry Street branch in New York City on October 31st, 2015.

The symposium was moderated by founding member Gil Fagiani, who also performed the first reading alongside Ketty Romagnoli, Litany of San Vito by Gil Fagiani, a poem dedicated to Marcantonio and his legacy.

Ketty Romagnoli reading at the Vito Marcantonio Forum symposium for Michael Parenti

Gil Fagiani & Ketty Romagnoli

Ms. Romagnoli of Bologna, is a digital media strategist and event planner by trade who has been researching Marcantonio and Covello’s roots in Italy. We look forward to her contributing her findings in the near-future.

The event featured a book presentation from author and journalist, Stephen Siciliano, who recently completed a full-length novel about Vito Marcantonio entitled the Goodfather. Siciliano discussed many aspects of of Parenti’s Waiting for Yesterday, highlighting sections found to be of the most historical and social significance.

vito marcantonio forum with LuLu LoLo Pascale

LuLu LoLo Pascale

“I know the house you grew up in.” said LuLu LoLo Pascale.  “A close friend of mine also lived in that house and so I took a picture and framed it for you.” Dr Parenti delightfully received the picture and gave thanks. Pascale, an East Harlem native herself, as well as an international playwright and performance artist, read, “Homage to Puglia” and “Coming Home to Both Worlds,” from Parenti’s book.

Vito Marcantonio Forum Co-chairman, Roberto Ragone, said “Halloween is the one day per year the country says you can be someone who you’re not. So I am going to be Vito Marcantonio while I read the following speech.” Ragone, who has experience working for the City Council, Mayor’s Office, and State Senate, dramatized a speech by the late, great congressman from East Harlem. Ragone also read, “Someone Else to Remember” and “Inventing Space,” his two favorite chapters from Parenti’s Waiting for Yesterday. 

vito marcantonio forum presents a book party event for waiting for yesterday by michael parentiBertell Ollman, the renown political theorist was in attendance and acknowledged by Parenti. East Harlem author and historian, Christopher Bell was also acknowledged. Artwork and online media was provided by Adam Meyer and Gabrielle Napolitano. The VMF thanks the New York Public Library for providing the venue  for the event. Also special thanks to Maria Lisella for press and promotional work.

Michael Parenti actively writes and lectures on a wide-range of topics. You can find his website at MichaelParenti.org and if you are interested in purchasing Waiting for Yesterday, you can find it at Amazon.com.

VMF event at Hostos Community College was a success!

October 15th, 2015
In commemoration of Italian Heritage Month, Hostos Community College’s Division of Student Development Enrollment Management proudly presented,

Vito Marcantonio: Champion of Immigration Rights 

vito_marcantonio

Vito Marcantonio

Marcantonio, who served as Congressman from East Harlem for fourteen years (1934-1936, 1938-1950), organized a powerful political coalition of his constituency’s mostly Italian-American, Puerto Rican, and African-American residents. Marcantonio’s dedication to his beloved East Harlem, a working-class community where he spent his entire life, continues to inspire his admirers.

The standing room-only event featured presentations and dramatizations of letters and speeches about the late, great Congressman. A number of areas of the College helped plan and promote the event and the Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF). Special thanks to Nydia R. Edgecombe, Director of Alumni Relations, for her creativity and dedication in making the proceedings memorable for faculty, staff, students, and the many visitors in attendance.

susan miceli

Susan Miceli

Hostos counselors Professor Susan Miceli coordinated the production and promotion of the event that included a sumptuous spread of Italian specialties.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Christine Mangino, provided insight and inspiration in describing the importance of observing Italian Heritage Month.

Poet, translator, and short-story writer, Gil Fagiani and Professor Lizette Colón read “The Litany of San Vito,” a poem written by Fagiani in dedication to Marcantonio:

Gil Fagiani and Lizette Colon

Gil Fagiani and Lizette Colon

San Vito of East Harlem, pray for us
San Vito bread of the poor, pray for us
San Vito crucified by Wall Street, pray for us
San Vito martyr of McCarthyism, pray for us

From the jail cell walls, San Vito deliver us
From the backyard crap game, San Vito deliver us
From the loan shark’s vig, San Vito deliver us
From the drunken stupor, San Vito deliver us

From TB and asthma, San Vito deliver us
From the social worker’s visit, San Vito deliver us
From immigration raids, San Vito deliver us
From the landlord’s greed, San Vito deliver us

Professor Gerald Meyer, who currently teaches World History at Hostos, also is well known for having written the most important book on the subject: Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician, 1902-1954. 

“Leonard Covello, Marcantonio’s teacher and mentor, created a club called the Circolo de Italiano, that helped Italian students learn to help one another as well as their families in the community of East Harlem. Covello firmly believed the children of immigrants must learn their parents’ languages ”

The Lucky Corner in East Harlem New York City

American Labor Party rally at Lucky Corner during Marcantonio’s mayoral campaign, November, 1949.

Marcantonio went on to become a congressman who championed the rights of immigrant groups that included mostly Italians and Puerto Ricans. Dr. Meyer described, in depth, how Marcantonio publicly defended Pedro Albizu Campos and Clemente Soto Vélez, who had been imprisoned for treason by the United States government for their involvement in the Puerto Rican Independence movement.

LuLu LoLo Pascale, community activist and performance artist, dramatized letters to Marcantonio from his constituency. An East Harlem native who grew up on the same block, Ms. Pascale reminisced talking to Marcantonio in the street when she was a small child. With a heavy heart, she recalled, “It was so long ago… if only I could remember what he and my father used to talk about!”

Roberto Ragone

Roberto Ragone reenacts Marcantonio speaking at the Lucky Corner

“When I put on this fedora, I become Marcantonio,” said Bronx native, consultant, and actor Roberto Ragone, who dramatized a Mayoral campaign speech made in 1949, the night before election day at the “Lucky Corner” on East 116th Street and Lexington Ave.

“[I pledge] our City shall be free from fear – fear of discrimination and fear of want,” Ragone read with much fervor and enthusiasm, “I pledge to fight for the ‘little’ people of the City of New York.”

Dr Gerald Meyer

Dr Gerald Meyer

Professor Meyer, Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, LuLu LoLo Pascale, Roberto Ragone, Ria Barakos, Luis Romero, Terry Anderson, Adam Meyer, and a dozen others dedicated to the cause formed the “Vito Marcantonio Forum” in October 2011.

The community based organization brings together people from a wide variety of backgrounds dedicated to disseminating and sharing knowledge of the life and work of Vito Marcantonio (1902 to 1954). For more information, please see the group’s website at www.VitoMarcantonioForum.org

Thank You for Attending our Walking Tour of East Harlem

September 19th, 2015

Over forty people gathered at the Lucky Corner on East 116th St & Lexington Ave for “Walking in the Footsteps of Vito Marcantonio,” a walking tour of East Harlem. Another cultural/educational event sponsored by the Vito Marcantonio Forum.

Vito Marcantonio Forum - Melissa Mark-Viverito with Gerald Meyer and Roberto Ragone

Professor Gerald Meyer with Melissa Mark-Viverito. Photo by Daniel A. Nelson of the Columbia School of Journalism.

 

VMF Co-Chairman, Dr. Gerald Meyer, spotted Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito in the crowd and promptly summoned her to the microphone where she said enthusiastically:

“This is a great way of remembering someone who is a great individual. Following in the footsteps of places that were important to Vito — someone who fought really hard on issues that we still care about today — in terms of living wage, in terms of immigrant rights… I feel really proud to represent a district that had been represented by Marcantonio.” 

Vito Marcantonio Forum - LuLu LoLo Pascale

Playwright/Actor and Performance Artist LuLu LoLo Pascale shares her early memories of Marcantonio.

The walking tour continued with a re-enactment of Marcantonio’s speech at the Lucky Corner by actor, activist, and Co-Chair of the VMF Roberto Ragone.

At a stop in front of educator Leonard Covello’s home at E116th Street, writer and performance artist LuLu LoLo Pascale, related her memories of having known Marcantonio and Covello as a child. She also read an excerpt from Covello’s breakthrough autobiogrphy, The Heart Is the Teacher.

A walking tour stop on E116th Street included a visit to Haarlem House, which was later renamed LaGuardia Memorial House. Pascale and Dr. Meyer discussed the historical significance of what was originally the Home Garden Settlement. What was interesting was a street vendor in front said he knew Marcantonio and that it was he who got his mother an apartment back in 1949.

VMF - Christopher Bell_walking tour of east harlem 2015

East Harlem native, Author and Historian, Christopher Bell.

Local author and historian, Christopher Bell, who has a chapter about Marcantonio in first book, Remembering East Harlem, discussed the importance of the next stop at 247 East 116th Street (between Second and Third Avenues): The Fiorello LaGuardia Political Association and later the Vito Marcantonio Political Association was often referred to as the “political club.”

Our Lady Queen of Angels School on 229 E112th St, New York and 229 E113th Street Our Lady Queen of Angels Church on 229 E112 Street are important for the fact that they will be at the site of a Papal visit next week.

Attorney Frank Marcantonio, who is a relative of Vito, read a letter to Cardinal Dolan about how Cardinal Spellman denied Vito Marcantonio a Catholic burial during the crazed Joseph McCarthy anti-communist era. The walking tour ended at Our Lady Of Mount Carmel Church, the site of Marcantonio’s baptism.

The Vito Marcantonio Forum thanks all who helped in presenting at the various stops as well as those who helped with audio & video, making signs, writing copy, contacting press, promotion, and more: Rita Barakos, Christopher Bell, Lizette Colón, Gil Fagiani, Lionel Francois, David Giglio, Maria Lisella, Frank Marcantonio, Adam Meyer, Gerald Meyer, Daniel A. Nelson, LuLu LoLo Pascale, Roberto Ragone, Luis Romero, Rosemary Siciliano, and many all who supported the cause — we cannot thank you enough!

Melissa Mark-Viverito looks on as Gerald Meyer speaks about Marcantonio altered on online photo application

Melissa Mark-Viverito (left) with friends and members of the VMF look on as Gerald Meyer speaks at a key location about Congressman Vito Marcantonio.

VMF events in September & October 2015

Vito Marcantonio Forum Celebrates Pope Francis’ Visit and Italian American Culture Month with a People’s Pilgrimage to East Harlem

Vito Marcantonio Forum 2015

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 @ 12:00PM

Walking in the Footsteps of Vito Marcantonio.

Starting at Lucky Corner at the northeast corner of 116th St. & Lexington Ave at 12pm. Highlights include a visit to Vito Marcantonio’s home, Our Lady Queen of Angels Elementary School that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit (the church was shut down to parishioners’ protests in 2007). VMF will appeal to the Vatican to bless Marcantonio who was refused a Catholic burial by Cardinal Spellman in 1954. Route details will soon be posted to VitoMarcantonioForum.org  Weather will be great!

See below for a map of the tour. For questions or if you get lost, call or text Adam Meyer at 347.813.1396

Vito Marcantonio Forum - Program for Walking Tour of East Harlem_09-19-15

Map of Procession

 

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Marcantonio and Immigration

VMF dramitization of Leonard Covello by LuLu LoLo PascaleThursday, October 15, from 2:00 to 3:30, @ CUNY’s Hostos Community College, Bronx, NY. This will be VMF’s 3rd program at Hostos. The focus for this program will be:

Marcantonio and Immigration.

Presenting: Professor Gerald Meyer with life-long East Harlem resident performance artist, LuLu LoLo Pascale and activist, actor and marketing expert, Roberto Ragone. The format encourages audience participation.

Light refreshments will be served | Admission is FREE!

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I’m Dying Now and I Did Not Kill Emmet Till

VMF - emmet till play flyer

THE PRODUCER’S CLUB
358 West 44th Street
New York, NY off 9th Ave
Admission is $10.00 

Friday, September 25, 2015 at 8PM
Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 8PM
Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 6PM

A play directed by VMF member Art Bernal with an acting appearance by VMF co-chairman Roberto Ragone.

The murder, the trial, the injustice for all is covered in this play. DON’T MISS IT. For more info, email dramaworkshopproject@gmail.com or call 201-416-9516

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Michael Parenti Book Presentation

waiting for yesterday by Michael Parenti

Saturday, October 31, 2015 from 2:00 to 4:00 @ NYPL’s Mulberry Branch Library, VMF will present a symposium on Waiting for Yesterday (Bordighera Press), Michael Parenti’s memoir of growing up in Italian Harlem. The event will be moderated by Gil Fagiani. Speakers will include author Stephen Siciliano and dramatizations by life-long East Harlem resident performance artist, LuLu LoLo Pascale and activist, actor and marketing expert, Roberto Ragone.

Parenti received his PhD in political science from Yale University and for many years, he taught political and social science at various institutions of higher learning. Eventually he devoted himself full-time to writing, public speaking, and political activism.

Parenti is the author of 23 books and many more articles. His highly acclaimed writings cover a wide range of subjects: U.S. politics, culture, ideology, political economy, imperialism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, free-marketorthodoxies, conservative judicial activism, religion, ancient history, modern history, historiography, repression in academia, news and entertainment media, technology, environmentalism, sexism, racism, homophobia, Venezuela, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, ethnicity, and his own early life.

Michael Parenti blog banner

Don’t miss these VMF events in September & October 2015!

Vice President Maria Lisella on Italics TV

Maria Lisella is the second woman and the first Italian American to be named Poet Laureate of Queens earlier this year. Recently she appeared on Italics TV. Maria also serves as the Vito Marcantonio Forum’s Vice President. Check out the video right here and like, share, tweet it, or simply tell me people about it!

Update on VMF events in May

Panel at the Left Forum “Vito Marcantonio: Champion of Civil Rights” was a great success. It attracted an appreciative audience of approximately 30 people who range from contemporaries of Marc to community college students.

An older attendee from Jersey City, NJ later noted that Roberto Ragone reminded him of the “Hoboken Kid,” Frank Sinatra, because he “enunciated every syllable.

Longtime VMF member, David Giglio filmed and edited the event at the Mulberry St Library entitled “East Harlem Remembered.” His books are available on the VMF merchandise section of the website. Please enjoy the video and pass it around:

 

Congratulating Poet Laureate, Maria Lisella

The Vito Marcantonio Forum’s Vice President, Maria Lisella, has been named the 6th Poet Laureate of Queens, NY.

Maria Lisella sworn in as poet laureate 2015

Maria Lisella sworn in as poet laureate 2015

For many years, Maria Lisella wrote about her travels. She has visited over 60 countries and her work has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, FOXNews.com, AFAR, Sherman’s Travel, Travel and Leisure, German Life Magazine, Global Foodie, The New York Daily News, Spa Review Magazine, Travel to Wellness yet never leave the travel trades: Agent at Home, Travel Age West, Travel Market Report, Travel Weekly, Jax Fax Travel Marketing and more.

NYQ Books has recently released Thieves in the Family, Her work has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize award for work appearing in Amore on Hope St. (Finishing Line Press) and Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada) as well as The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Feile Festa, FoxHill Review, Gradiva, New Verse News, Philadelphia Poets. Co-curate Italian American Writers Association literary readings at Cornelia St. Cafe and Sidewalk Cafe in New York City.

maria Lisella with the selection committee for the poet laureate

Maria Lisella with the selection committee for the poet laureate

In 2011, Maria Lisella joined forces with as many people she knew interested and was successful in launching the Vito Marcantonio Forum. In 2013 she rand for Vice President of the nonprofit and was elected in 2013.

Ms. Lisella has been especially helpful to the VMF in organizing numerous public events, writing press releases, and publicizing. It’s amazing how much press she is able to generate both in the United States and abroad.

The acting officers and members of the organization are grateful for her outstanding service and commitment to the organization. For an interesting interview on the subject, please see the NY1 article and video.

Left Forum panel discussion on Sat May 30th at 12pm

 

Vito Marcantonio Forum at the Left Forum 2015

Congressman Vito Marcantonio (1934 to 1950):
Champion for Civil Rights

Featured Left Forum panel discussion and dramatization at the

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York 
Saturday, 5/30/15 at 12:00PM — 1:50PM in Room 1.105  

Abstract: Congressman Vito Marcantonio (1934 to 1950): Champion for Civil Rights Vito
Marcantonio, who represented East Harlem for seven terms, from 1934 to 1950, as the sole
Congressman of the American Labor Party, distinguished himself for his effective leadership as a national spokesperson of the Left. Closely allied with the Communist Party, Marcantonio
played major roles defending and advancing the progressive agenda.

This panel is devoted to Marcantonio’s extraordinary work in the fight for civil rights, both in
Congress and in his political work.

Specific aspects of his heroic efforts include: sponsoring legislation to abolish the poll tax,
recognize lynching as a federal crime, and enact the Federal Fair Employment Act as well as his fight
to integrate the blood banks and his support for the postwar petition to the United Nations charging the United States government with genocide against the African-American people.

The panel will also look at his work to aid individual African-American constituents. Lastly, the panel will analyze how Marc’s political and rhetorical style contributed  to  a  long  series  of  successes  that  were  achieved, most often, under highly  unfavorable circumstances. Panelists include: Dr. Gerald Meyer, Co‐Founder and Co‐Chair Vito Marcantonio Forum Roberto Ragone, Co‐Founder and Co‐Chair Vito Marcantonio Forum Gil Fagiani, (Speaker and Moderator), Founding Member of the Vito Marcantonio Forum

Left Forum is the largest annual conference of the broad Left in the United States. Each spring thousands of conference participants come together to discuss pressing local, national and global issues; to better understand commonalities and differences, and alternatives to current predicaments; or to share ideas to help build social movements to transform the world.

Also note that the following day at the Left Forum, Sunday, May 31 @ 3:40 PM, Room 1.123/Session 7, Gerald Meyer will be a panelist for Marxist Encounters with Anarchism. The event is sponsored by Science & Society.

This year’s theme of Left Forum is

“No Justice, No Peace: Confronting the Crises of Capitalism and Democracy” 

This year even features 1,600 Speakers and 420 Panels, Workshops and events

Please register online at www.LeftForum.org