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Gale A. Brewer Receives the Vito Marcantonio Award!

Manhattan Borough President Gale A Brewer

The Vito Marcantonio Forum proudly presented the Vito Marcantonio Award to Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer in a ceremony in New York City’s West Village on June 23rd 2019.

Gale A. Brewer was awarded for her outstanding service to the community that she has served since she began working in politics during the late 1970’s. Mary Anne Krupsak, the former Lieutenant Governor of New York. From 1978 to 1990, she was chief of staff to then-New York City Council member Ruth Messinger.

Brewer served on the New York City Council for 10 years beginning in 2002. Brewer helped to enact legislation protecting domestic workers and has chaired committees that include General Welfare, Higher Education; Housing & Buildings; Mental Health; Technology; Transportation; and Waterfronts—to name a few.

Brewer was ineligible to run for re-election to the City Council in 2013 because of term limits. In February 2013 Brewer announced she would run for Manhattan Borough President. Brewer won the general election on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Since receiving the Vito Marcantonio Award, Gale Brewer has written a thank you letter saying “I write to convey my deepest thanks to you and the other members of the Forum for presenting me with the 5th Vito Marcantonio Award on June 23rd at Gaetana’s Restaurant. I so admire Marcantonio’s compassion for the ‘man in the street,’ his incredible perseverance and unflagging spirit, and the inspiration he gave so many through hard times and long struggles for justice.”

Gale A. Brewer is the fifth recipient of the Vito Marcantonio Award. The previous four are Annette T. Rubinstein, Ralph Fasanella, Pete Pascale, and Melissa Mark Viverito. Gale A. Brewer is married to Cal Snyder. They have adopted several children. Their son Mo Sumbundu carries on the family tradition of working in government at the Empire State Development Corp.

Brewer-receiving-award-June-2019
Holding Gabrielle Napolitano’s poster is (clockwise from left): Gerald Meyer, Maria Lisella, Gale Brewer, Chloe Swift, Adam Meyer, and Roberto Ragone. Photo by: Jennifer Wishnow
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Come Support the Vito Marcantonio Awards Luncheon Honoring Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer!

Sunday, June 23rd 2019
12:00pm – 4pm (program begins at 1pm)

Music by Los Mas Valientes – Traditional Latin Jazz with a NY Beat
Guests will enjoy a delicious Italian cuisine at:

Gaetana’s Restaurant 
143 Christopher Street (intersecting Greenwich Street)
New York, NY 10014

The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) is presenting the Vito Marcantonio Award to Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, who has represented her constituents in the progressive tradition and has been active in politics since 1975.

Join this celebration by purchasing tickets at an amount you can afford:

Manhattan Borough President Gale A Brewer
Buy tickets for Vito Marcantonio Forum Award Dinner Honoring Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Friends: $20
Supporters: $30
Benefactors: $100

You can purchase tickets (or make a donation) here.

Alternately, you can email Roberto Ragone at Roberto.Ragone@gmail.com or GeraldJMeyer@aol.com

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Join us for a book presentation with author Peter Duffy, for The Agitator: William Bailey and the First American Uprising Against Nazism

Mulberry Street Public Library
10 Jersey St. New York, NY 10012

Wed., May 29th | 6:00-7:30 PM 
FREE ADMISSION

The Vito Marcantonio Forum is proud to support a presentation for The Agitator, a biography of Bill Bailey, a decorated Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran, who is best known for leading a group of young Communists in 1935 aboard the SS Bremen that was docked in New York  Harbor, for the purpose of tearing-down the Nazi Flag.

Subsequently, Bailey and his comrades were arrested on a number of serious charges. Vito Marcantonio, who served as their defense attorney, succeeded in having all charges dismissed. 

This story of an anti-fascist’s dramatic and remarkable victory against Nazism is an inspiration to anyone compelled to resist when signs of oppression are on the horizon.

The Agitator by Peter Duffy

The VMF encourages all of its members and supporters to join us at this free event, and if this is not possible, to purchase The Agitator from the author’s website
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Vito Marcantonio commemoration in Picerno, Italy 2019

Picerno’s Commemoration of Vito Marcantonio

We are proud to announce that the hometown of Marcantonio’s family, Picerno, Italy is commemorating Vito Marcantonio with a three-day festival beginning on April 9th, 2019.

VMF founding member, Stephen Siciliano, a journalist who hosts Marcantoniana, published a story just over a year ago covering the Street Naming Ceremony at Marcantonio’s Lucky Corner on East 116th Street and Lexington Avenue in the East Harlem section of Manhattan. Saverio Romeo, a Picerno native currently residing in London, read the story and got in contact with us to inform the VMF of their intention to do an extended version of the VMF’s street naming.

Vito Marcantonio Lucky Corner street naming ceremony 2017
Frank Marcantonio Jr, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Speaker of the City Councily Melissa Mark-Viverito, LuLu LoLo Pascale, Gloria Quiñones, Roberto Ragone; Back row: Christopher Bell, Gerald Meyer

The Municipality of Picerno has had the idea of an event on Vito Marcantonio for a long time. Matera, a site of great historical significance, has received from the United Nation the distinction of Capital of Culture. This has helped provide the financial opportunity for developing a commemorative Marcantonio event within a moment of great visibility for the entire region of Basilicata, which is located in Southern Italy, is an explosion of stories, characters, and ideas all coming from its towns and villages.. We all hope the event will be just the beginning of a number of activities celebrating the legacy of Vito Marcantonio, a great defender of human rights.

Various personalities from Avigliano, the hometown of Leonard Covello, the incomparable educational philosopher who dedicated his life to Italian immigrant children, will attend the event in the hope of creating a connection between the two towns based on the Marcantonio-Covello mentorship that evolved into a partnership.

In addition, the event organizers have sponsored two VMF members to attend the Festival in Picerno! The VMF has elected Roberto Ragone and Gary Bono as our ambassadors for this enriching journey that will help promote.

We look forward to hearing a report back from Roberto Ragone and Gary Bono who will share their experiences with Picerno and with those who attend to find ways to continue this valuable relationship.

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The Purgatory Trial of Vito Marcantonio

On January 27, 2019 The Vito Marcantonio Forum & Word Of Art Productions presented The Purgatory Trial of Vito Marcantonio, which was written and performed by Roberto Ragone, Directed by Art Bernal with an introduction by Gerald Meyer.

Roberto Ragone during the open discussion following the performance of The Purgatory Trial of Vito Marcantonio

The following review written by Gabe Falsetta and Gary Bono, originally appeared in The People’s World and later in The Indypendent:

On a recent Sunday afternoon in New York City an audience of more than 50 people was treated to a unique one-man show, The Purgatory Trail of Vito Marcantonio, written and performed by Roberto Ragone and directed by Art Bernal with introductory remarks by Professor Gerald Meyer. Professor Meyer is the author of the definitive biography of the progressive congressman and the co-chair, along with co-chair Ragone, of the Vito Marcantonio Forum.

The play opens on Aug. 9th, 1954, the day of Marcantonio’s death. Though a Catholic, Marcantonio was denied a Catholic burial by New York’s extreme right-wing cardinal, and thus the action of the play centers around an imagined plea by Marcantonio to be released from purgatory — the repository of souls that God assigned neither to Heaven nor Hell  — and be allowed to ascend into heaven.

By way of a defense, Ragone, as Marcantonio, presents excerpts from his speeches in Congress and dramatized reenactments of incidents from his life. Ragone carries these texts (explaining each of these key moments in his life) in a portfolio each of which illustrate his record of selfless service to his constituents and his loyalty to his East Harlem community.

Reenacted are such things as Marcantonio’s impassioned pleas for the establishment of a “second front” in Europe during WWII to assist the beleaguered Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, his defense of jailed Puerto Rican Nationalist, Pedro Albizu Campos, and his lonely stance in opposition to the Korean War.

The play illustrates how Marcantonio never compromised his progressive principals; always serving as a champion of equality, a fighter against injustice and a defender of the common folk.

Also documented: the relentless hostility of the powers-that-be toward Marcantonio. They continually plotted and schemed against him, changing the boundaries of his district until it extended as far south as Sutton Place. They even changed the election laws to his detriment.

Initially, these attempts at sabotage were in vain, he was reelected six times. Contributing greatly to Marcantonio’s success was the fact that during his time in Congress he had an unparalleled record of direct service to his constituents.

In his introductory remarks, Professor Meyer read extracts from letters sent to Marcantonio from people in his district thanking him or asking for help. With that kind of grassroots support, he proved hard to beat and the only way his opponents could succeed removing him from office was through the immense effort of getting all the other political parties to unite against him.

There are many memorable highlights’, e.g., the eulogy given at Marcantonio’s wake by the great Paul Robeson; a back and forth with a friend of questionable reputation, the gangster Tommy Lucchese, who Marcantonio showed respect while rejecting his offer of a personal bodyguard; and Marcantonio’s successful defense of black leader and communist W.E.B. DuBois, who aptly said the main hurdle of the 21st century would be overcoming racism.

Although this New York performance was a limited engagement Ragone and Bernal have already been approached about possible performances in other cities and it may, in part, even be available for viewing on YouTube, so many others may get a chance to see this play in the future.

TodayMarcantonio, perhaps the most progressive representative to ever hold a congressional seat, has largely been written out of history. The Vito Marcantonio Forum’s goal is to reverse this wrong.


Photo (from left to right): Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Dubois, Vito Marcantonio. Photographer unknown.

Note: This article has appeared in the following fine publications:
People’s World, La Voce, WetheItalians.com, Primo, Indypendent, L’Idea, Portside, ItaliansRUs.com

Puerto Rico on Our Mind

“Protests Shook the Halls of Power in Puerto Rico,” a very worthwhile article published in July 25th’s New York Times, notes its organizers’ belief that these historical demonstrations are not “spontaneous.” The article shows the high degrees of organization underlying these determined and successful mass demonstration. It quotes Shariana Ferrer, a leader of Puerto Rico’s women’s organizations: “This is an organic movement… but it is not a spontaneous movement.”

Significantly, women’s and gay/lesbian organizations are playing major roles in these activities. This development underscores that so-called “identity politics” has the potential of translating into coalition politics.

These mass demonstrations specifically called for Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation. More importantly, the evidence reveals that while Puerto Rico is officially a territory of the United States, Puerto Rico has the attributes of a nation.

While calling for Rosselló’s resignation, the symbol of this movement is not the placards calling for Rosselló to step down. It is, and will continue to be, the flag of Puerto Rico (for many years displaying this flag was a criminal offense). Protesters waved countless Puerto Rican flags. Not one American flag was flown. No less significant, not one word of English was spoken from the platforms, nor was it used in any of the slogans. While one reggaton piece was composed overnight to be performed at the demonstration, the musical background for these manifestations have been classical ballads expressing love for Puerto Rico and “plenas,” a folk genre traditionally sang at political demonstrations. A long-time favorite plena at manifestations of all kind goes: “Que bonita bandera; Que bonita bandera; Que bonita bandera, es la bandera puertorriqueña.” In short, the style/rhythm of these rallies was distinctly Puerto Rican.

As Congressman representing East Harlem for seven terms, Vito Marcantonio (1902-1954) submitted five bills demanding Puerto Rico’s independence, “with indemnification for the damage the United States had imposed on the Island.” While maintaining Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, it is time to reconsider this proposal.

Always,
Gerald Meyer, Co-Chair Vito Marcantonio Forum

DUE TO A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, THE PURGATORY TRIAL OF VITO MARCANTONIO HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

Arsenio Ragone (1924-2018)

Dear Friends,

My father, Arsenio Ragone (1924 to 2018), passed away. Here is all the
information for anyone who will be available to attend the wake or the
funeral.

My father was passionate about life and brought a certain artistry and
entertainment value to his singing, dancing, banter/comedy, and even
his merchandising, whether it was transacting over livestock as a
young man in Teggiano, Salerno, Italy or selling imported Italian
shoes to customers in the Bronx.

Wake:
John Dormi & Sons
1121 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, NY 10461
(718) 863-2000

You can check the website for directions.

https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/bronx-ny/arsenio-ragone-8073116

If you are taking the subway, please note it is the Morris Park stop and NOT THE Morris Park/180th Street stop. Stay on the train ONE EXTRA STOP FROM MANHATTAN to get off at the correct stop.

Monday, December 3,
4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Tuesday, December 4
2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Funeral Mass:
10:00 am – 10:30 am

ST.CLARE OF ASSISI CHURCH
1027 Rhinelander Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461

In lieu of flowers, you can make a donation to St, Jude’ Children’s
Research Hospital at
https://www.stjude.org/about-st-jude/faq/how-can-i-donate-to-st-jude.html

Thank you for the kind words of sympathy received so far.

Please note that my December 9 event has been postponed.

Roberto Ragone
President / Consultant, Ragone Enterprises and Productions – Strategy,
Marketing, Public Relations – Actor, Writer, Producer, Impresario –

917-923-4765 | roberto.ragone@gmail.com
http://www.ragoneproductions.com | Skype: RagoneR2

VMF events December 1st

You are invited to join The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) continues with the latest installment of Oliver Stone’s multi-part documentary:

The Untold History of the United States: Chapter 5: The 50s – Eisenhower, the Bomb & The Third World

WHAT: Screening of The Untold History of  the United States. Chaired by Gerald Meyer, VMF co-chair of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, the film will be followed by an open discussion.
WHEN: Saturday, December 1st, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WHERE: Community Room at the Mulberry Street Public Library:
10 Jersey St. (btw. Lafayette and Mulberry Sts.) New York, NY 10012
PLEASE NOTE: Chapter 6 screening will be on January 5, 2019
Light Refreshments / Free Admission 

The Untold History of the United States: Chapter 5: The 50s - Eisenhower, the Bomb & The Third World

Martyrs of McCarthyism: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, 1953.

From 2018 to 2019, the Vito Marcantonio Forum showed the first three of Stone’s ten, one-hour long, episodes that comprise his masterful documentary, “The Untold History of the United States,” each of which was followed by an Open Discussion. These events attracted large, engaged audiences. This series will resume with the screening of “The 50’s – Eisenhower, the Bomb & The Third World.”

Almost eerily, Stone’s interpretation of this period of U. S. history mirrors the positions Vito Marcantonio presented from the floor of the House of Representatives, on radio, in Madison Square Garden/Yankee Stadium, and at countless street-corner rallies throughout New York City.

The screening on Dec. 1st 2018, will be followed by “JFK to the Brink,” on Jan, 5th 2019. All parts of this series take place on the first Saturdays of the month in the Community Room of the MSPL, 2:00PM-4:00PM; all are free and serve light refreshments.

We encourage you to go on-line and purchase “The Untold History of the U.S.,” an extraordinary volume, authored by Stone and Peter Kusnick, that accompanies the documentary.

PS: There is interest in forming a four-session reading circle for Leonard Covello’s, The Heart Is the Teacher. If you are interested, please send an email to GeraldJMeyer@aol.com, who will facilitate this endeavor. Please include which evening(s), from Monday to Thursday, you are available.

untold history of the united statesAbout the film: Documentary by Oliver Stone. E.5: Eisenhower and the CIA played a great part in the shaping of the world in the 1950’s; the development of the Cold war and the nerve-wrecking battle against communism, driven on by the U.S. Government hysteria’s reaction to the Red Scare spearheaded by McCarthyism leads to the incarceration, black listing, and execution of those who are a perceived threat.
About Oliver Stone: This prolific and ingenious screenwriter and director has authored numerous award-winning feature  films, including SalvadorThe Fourth of JulyJFK — that have reached millions of viewers with dramatic depictions of historic events that challenge conventional interpretations of critical events of our time. Stone’s official website is oliverstone.com and his official Twitter handle is: @TheOliverStone

 

The Untold History of the United States: Chapter 4: The Cold War 1945-1950

You are invited to join The Vito Marcantonio Forum (VMF) continues with the latest installment  of Oliver Stone’s multi-part documentary,

The Untold History of the United States: Chapter 4: The Cold War.

WHAT: Screening of The Untold History of  the United States. Chaired by Gerald Meyer, VMF co-chair of the Vito Marcantonio Forum, the film will be followed by an open discussion.
Introductions by Adam Meyer; facilitation of Open Discussion, by Gerald Meyer; dramatization of Vito Marcantonio’s speech in Congress on “The Marshall Plan and Italy,” by Roberto Ragone.
WHEN: Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
WHERE: Community Room at the Mulberry Street Public Library:
10 Jersey St. (btw Lafayette and Mulberry Sts.) New York, NY 10012
PLEASE NOTE: Chapter 5 screening will be on December 1, 2018
Light Refreshments / Free Admission 

cold war eraFrom February to May, the Vito Marcantonio Forum showed the first three of Stone’s ten, one-hour long, episodes that comprise his masterful documentary, “The Untold History of the United States,” each of which was followed by an Open Discussion. These events attracted large, engaged audiences. This series will resume with the screening of “The Cold War,” a period which saw U.S. foreign policy make a 180-degree turn from cooperation with the Soviet Union to hostility towards its recent ally. At home, the federal government and much of civil society turned on the Left, which was largely extirpated through ruthless persecution.

Stone’s interpretation of this period proposes that the United States, in an alliance with Great Britain, was largely responsible for the hostilities that ensued. He also shows that the accompanying havoc at home wrecked the New Deal coalition. Whatever one’s opinion of his point of view, Stone’s cinematography ranks among the best. Almost eerily, Stone’s interpretation of this period of U. S. history mirrors the positions Vito Marcantonio presented from the floor of the House of Representatives, on radio, in Madison Square Garden/Yankee Stadium, and at countless street-corner rallies throughout New York City.

The screening of “The Cold War,” on Nov. 3 will be followed by–“The ’50s: Eisenhower, the H-Bomb, and the Third World,” on Dec. 1; and “JFK to the Brink,” on Jan, 5. All three parts of this series take place on the first Saturdays of the month in the Community Room of the MSPL, btw. 2:00-4:00; all are free and serve light refreshments.

We encourage you to go on-line and purchase “The Untold History of the U.S.,” an extraordinary volume, authored by Stone and Peter Kusnick, that accompanies the documentary.

PS: There is interest in forming a four-session reading circle for Leonard Covello’s, The Heart Is the Teacher. If you are interested, please send an email to GeraldJMeyer@aol.com, who will facilitate this endeavor. Please include which evening(s), from Monday to Thursday, you are available.

untold history of the united statesAbout the film: Who started the Cold War? In a month-by-month analysis, the initial aggressors are less apparent. Yet, the relationship between the Soviets and the West are none-the-less solidified with Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech. The US enters the “Red Scare” and creates The House Un-American Activities Committee in an attempt to place the “right” ideology as a bedrock for US culture. The rise of Joseph McCarthy, with the aid of the FBI, turns into a near witch hunt for Communists in America..
About Oliver Stone: This prolific and ingenious screenwriter and director has authored numerous award-winning feature  films, including SalvadorThe Fourth of JulyJFK — that have reached millions of viewers with dramatic depictions of historic events that challenge conventional interpretations of critical events of our time. Stone’s official website is oliverstone.com and his official Twitter handle is: @TheOliverStone