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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

Bronx River Assembly

VMF member Saudy Tejada has long been involved in the Bronx River Sankofa and they are having a free annual event at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College. It’s a FREE EVENT if you RSVP in advance:

RSVP here

For more information call (718) 430-4636 or contact Joseph Sanchez at joseph.sanchez@parks.nyc.gov

2015 Bronx River Sankofa Assembly

Covello event at Hostos was a hit!

Leonard Covello’s The Heart is the Teacher was rereleased

with the newer edition including an afterward written by Dr. Gerald Meyer

The people at Hostos were kind enough to throw an event in the Vito Marcantonio Room on May Day, 2014 and the event was a success.

IMG_0957 IMG_0959

Professor Meyer gave a lecture on the book and the background of Covello and Italian East Harlem during the 1930’s–1950’s. After this, LuLu LoLo Pascale (who personally knew Covello) and Roberto Ragone performed dramatic readings from the book. The Vito Marcantonio Forum thanks everyone who helped put together the event at Hostos and everyone who attended.

Check out this cell phone video of it on youtube:

Book Party at Hostos Community College for Covello’s The Heart is the Teacher

In celebration of diversity, Hostos members of The Italian American Faculty and Staff Council of CUNY Present a Book Party, Dramatic Reading and Discussion:

Leonard Covello’s The Heart is the Teacher

Thursday May 1, 2014

vmf presentation of the heart is the teacher by leonard covello WHAT: Book party, dramatic reading and discussion of Leonard Covello’s The Heart is the Teacher. Recently reprinted and reissued by the John D. Calandra Institute of Italian American Institute’s series dedicated to all aspects of the Italian diaspora. WHO: Professor Gerald J. Meyer, who wrote the Afterword for the reissued book, will contextualize Covello’s work and discuss its pedagogical relevance in today’s multi-cultural society. From the Afterword: “Covello proposed an alternative vision of how Italian-American and other immigrant cultures (and especially their languages) could endure and flourish in their new homeland.” New York based playwright/actor, performance and multidisciplinary artist, LuLu LoLo will dramatize portions of the book while Roberto Ragone, actor/producer, business and cultural consultant, will take on the role of seven-time elected East Harlem Congressman Vito Marcantonio, a former student, and close friend to Covello; reading passages about Marcantonio from Covello’s book and explaining Covello’s importance to education. WHEN: Thursday May 1, 2014 from 12:30-2:30 PM. Refreshments will be served. Free admission.

LOCATION: Hostos Community College. Vito Marcantonio Room, B Building Room 115.

DIRECTIONS: click here.