Category Archives: readings

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

Video of Vito Marcantonio Memorial at City Hall Park 2016

We are proud to announce the release of the latest Vito Marcantonio Forum video!

Thanks to VMF co-founder David Giglio, who films and edits our events, we have a brand new video! Please share it with everyone you know via email, social media, etc.

In addition to everyone in attendance, we also like to specially thank the following speakers:

  • Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the NYC Council
  • Hon. Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
  • Gloria Quinones, East Harlem Community Activist, Attorney, Advocate

Click below for the latest Vito Marcantonio Forum video:

The 4th Annual Commemoration of Vito Marcantonio at City Hall Park in New York 2016

We want to thank everyone who attended the fourth annual commemoration of Vito Marcantonio. More than fifty persons of every imaginable background attended the event held at the exact location where Marc fell dead of a heart attach in 1954.

Vito Marcantonio Forum commemoration 2016 Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Bronx Borough President Gale Brewer

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Speaker of the City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, as well as U.S. Attorney and Easy Harlem Community Activist Gloria Quinones, Gloria spoke about Marc’s tremendous contributions to Puerto Rico right to benefit from its association with the United States while fighting for its independence, and the need to day for pubic officials to follow in his example.

Leading up to the event, we had a banner ad posted on the Indypendent Newspaper’s website. Their online and printed publications represent the best in journalism.

We will soon post a video of today’s event on our YouTube channel. Roberto Ragone did an excellent job writing content, organizing, and emceeing. Below is the run of show so you get an idea of what transpired:

Melissa Mark-Viverito at the Vito Marcantonio Forum commemoration event 2016

Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito

Vito Marcantonio:  Fourth Annual Commemoration

3:00-3:10pm – Roberto Ragone as emcee makes welcoming remarks and introduces Gil Fagiani, who along with Simone Cinotto, will recite his poem, The Litany of San Vito

3:10-3:30pm – Public Officials speak:
  • Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker of the NYC Council
  • Hon. Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
  • Gloria Quinones, East Harlem Community Activist, Attorney, Advocate

3:30-3:45pm – Reading of “The People’s Proclamation for Vito Marcantonio”

  1. LuLu LoLo Pascale

    LuLu LoLo Pascale 2016 commemoration of Vito Marcantonio

    LuLu LoLo Pascale

  2. Simone Cinotto
  3. Gary Bono
  4. Chris Bell
  5. Rita Barakos
  6. Luis Romero
  7. Nicholas Arture
  8. Lionel Francois
  9. Gloria Quinones
  10. Adam Meyer

3:45-3:55pm – Dr. Gerald Meyer on the significance of site of the event|
3:55-4:00pm – LuLu LoLo Pascale performs a dramatization
4:00-4:09 pm – Intro. to dramatization and dramatization of Vito Marcantonio by Roberto Ragone
4:09-4:15 pm Closing Remarks – Dr. Gerald Meyer (on the importance of volunteers and supporting our future events given Marcantonio’s relevance)

Vito Marcantonio Forum pic at commemoration 2016 of Gloria Quinones with Gale Brewer and Gerald Meyer speaking

Professor Gerald Meyer discusses the late, great Vito Marcantonio while community activist Gloria Quinones and Gale Brewer look on.

Vito Marcantonio Commemoration 2016

Vito_Marcantonio_Forum_City_Hall_2016_320x180

Vito Marcantonio (1902-1954): Fourth Annual Commemoration

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) invites one-and-all to attend “Vito Marcantonio: Fourth Annual Commemoration,” which will be held @ 3:00 PM, on Sunday August 28th, outside City Hall Park across from the Woolworth Building. We are assembling there because it is nearby the site where, at fifty-one, the East Harlem Congressman fell dead. After the event, attendees will retire to a restaurant two blocks distance away.

The one-hour-long program will feature the reading of “The People’s Proclamation for Vito Marcantonio.” In addition, there will be dramatizations by Roberto Ragone and LuLu Pascale. Gerald Meyer will deliver a eulogy. Elected officials are invited to attend.

Vito Marcantonio (1902-1954), who represented his community in the House of Representatives for seven terms (1934-1936, 1938-1950), was elected to office as a leader of the American Labor Party. Through his activities, in and outside of Congress, Marc, as he liked to be called, earned the status of national spokesperson for American Progressives. He became an unrivaled leader in the struggle for racial equality, the rights of the foreign-born, and against McCarthyism in all of its ugly manifestations.

Marcantonio was devoted to the cause of Puerto Rico’s independence. In 1950, declaring his need to “vote his conscience,” Vito Marcantonio was the sole member of Congress to vote against United States participation in what he termed, the civil war raging in Korea. Vilified and slandered in his life time, Marc’s East Harlem’s mostly Italian-American, Puerto Ricans, and African-American constituents remained fiercely loyal. However, in 1950, when confronted with a “regular” Democrat who was also endorsed by the Republican and Liberal parties, Marcantonio was defeated.

Marc was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, a nondenominational cemetery located in the northeast Bronx, because Cardinal Spellman refused to allow him to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. Subsequently, Vito Marcantonio’s colossal work for all those shut out of participation in the American dream has been erased from American history. The Vito Marcantonio Forum is dedicated to righting this wrong by bringing information to the American progressive community and through the production of creative works. We invite you to join us in the work that will materialize this goal.

Leonard Covello Panel discussion at the Left Forum 2016

VITO MARCANTONIO FORUM Left Forum panel event 2016We are excited to be back at the Left Forum. 2016 looks like an action-packed lineup practically guarantees this year’s Forum will not disappoint. If you are interested in attending, you must purchase a ticket from the Left Forum. You can try calling them (good luck) at the Left Forum Office at (212) 817-2002.

This year’s Forum event is being held at

 John Jay College of Criminal Justice
524 W 59th St, New York, NY 10019

The panel discussion and presentation will be informative and entertaining — BELIEVE THAT!!!

Here is the program:

VMF Left Forum panel event 2016 program

ITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE book presentation

VMF AUTHOR SERIES presents

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTUREITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE, 1890-1940, by Marcella Bencivenni 

Wednesday, May 18th 2016, 5:00-6:45 PM

Prof. Gerald Meyer will chair a discussion of ITALIAN AMERICAN RADICAL CULTURE, 1890-1940, by Marcella Bencivenni. Italian/English bilingual readings of Arturo Giovanitti’s poetry by VMF members: Gil Fagiani, Maria Lisella, & Roberto  Ragone.

Where: NYPL Mulberry St. Branch,  10 Jersey St., NY, corner of Mulberry & Prince Sts., one block south of Houston St.

Books available for purchase.
Free admission, light  refreshments served

marcella bencivenni

Author Marcella Bencivenni

VMF AUTHOR SERIES
This event is co-hosted with Italian American Writers Association (IAWA)

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) is an educational organization dedicated to preserving the history of the radical political tradition of East Harlem, the cultural backdrop of Italian Harlem and El Barrio and increasing awareness of the American Labor Party that Marcantonio led for years; and the critical role of the Left that rallied to Marcantonio.

The Italian American Writers Association will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2016. Since 1991, IAWA has given voice to writers through its literary series every second Saturday of the months. Readings begin with an Open Mic: IAWA-East is held even months at Sidewalk Café and IAWA-West continues at Cornelia Street Café on odd months.

Website: iawa.net
BLOG: italian american writers café http://newsite.iitaly.org/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/italianamericanwritersassociation

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTURE by Marcella Bencivenni

Join the Vito Marcantonio Forum Wednesday May 18th, 2016 from 5pm-6:45pm at the Mulberry St Public Library at 10 Jersey St (bet Mulberry and Lafayette Sts), New York, NY 10012 | FREE EVENT | Light refreshments served

Marcella Bencivenni’s Book Presentation

ITALIAN IMMIGRANT RADICAL CULTUREItalian Immigrant Radical Culture: The Idealism of the Sovversivi in the United States, 1890-1940

287 pages

23 halftones

May, 2011

ISBN: 9780814791035

Maligned by modern media and often stereotyped, Italian Americans possess a vibrant, if largely forgotten, radical past. In Italian Immigrant Radical Culture, Marcella Bencivenni delves into the history of the sovversivi, a transnational generation of social rebels, and offers a fascinating portrait of their political struggle as well as their milieu, beliefs, and artistic creativity in the United States.

marcella bencivenni

Marcella Bencivenni

As early as 1882, the sovversivi founded a socialist club in Brooklyn. Radical organizations then multiplied and spread across the country, from large urban cities to smaller industrial mining areas. By 1900, thirty official Italian sections of the Socialist Party along the East Coast and countless independent anarchist and revolutionary circles sprang up throughout the nation. Forming their own alternative press, institutions, and working class organizations, these groups created a vigorous movement and counterculture that constituted a significant part of the American Left until World War II.

Italian Immigrant Radical Culture compellingly documents the wide spectrum of this oppositional culture and examines the many cultural and artistic forms it took, from newspapers to literature and poetry to theater and visual art. As the first cultural history of Italian American activism, it provides a richer understanding of the Italian immigrant experience while also deepening historical perceptions of radical politics and culture.

REVIEWS

  • Italian Immigrant Radical Culture not only makes an important contribution to the history of the Italian-American left but, more broadly, reminds us of the importance of the cultural and literary dimension of radical politics in the United States during the first half of the twentieth century.”

    —Fraser Ottanelli, Professor of History, University of South Florida

  • “A welcome introduction to the poorly understood immigrant sovversivi, whose ideological commitments to revolution and emancipation as often found expression in poetry, theater, and the arts as on the picket line and in the radical press.”

    —Donna Gabaccia, University of Minnesota

  • “Utilizing a broad spectrum of materials from Italian archives and American repositories, Bencivenni penetrates deeply into a hitherto unexplored dimension of the lost world of Italian immigrant radicalism—its culture. With acute insight and intellectual sophistication, she provides a superb analysis of radical working-class poetry, drama, and art, together with vivid biographical portraits of principal contributors, both men and women, and their struggles against capitalist exploitation and fascist domination. Her book is a must for any scholar or general reader drawn to these fascinating subjects.”

    —Nunzio Pernicone, author of Italian Anarchism, 1864-1892

  • “Anyone interested in the topic will benefit from Bencivenni’s deep understanding of her subject, her exhaustive research, and her clear organization and writing.”

    —R.J. Goldstein, Choice

  • “Bencivenni has written an impressive book that nicely complements existing studies on Italian immigrants. It deserves a wide audience.”

    —Mike Rosenow, H-Net Reviews

  • “Marcella Bencivenni contributes to the growing literature of the sovversivi (subversives) but with a new twist… Bencivenni’s superb analysis of the importance of the cultural and literal dimension of radical politics and her biographical portraits of its stars ensure that the works of these men and women will have a lasting legacy in American radical history.”

    —Diane C. Vecchio, Furman University

  • “Bencivenni’s superb analysis of the importance of the cultural and literary dimension of radical politics and her biographical portraits of its stars ensure that the works of these men and women will have a lasting legacy in American radical history.”

    —Diane C. Vecchio, The Journal of American History

  • “A great book that will benefit well-established scholars, newly minted Ph.D.’s, and graduate students thinking about distinct avenues of research.”

    —Caroline Merithew, Italian American Review

  • “Sheds illuminating light on a part of that history that is often overlooked, and in doing so revitalizes a radical tradition.”

    —Stefan Bosworth, Science & Society