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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

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

Major political and civic landmarks in Vito Marcantonio’s New York: illuminating his life

Vito Marcantonio’s New York: illuminating his life

By Morgan Powell

Note: Where page numbers appear, they refer to illuminating facts from Gerald Meyer’s book Vito Marcantonio: radical politician, 1902-1954 unless attributed to another source.

Major Political / Civic Landmarks

The Lucky Corner in East Harlem New York City

Lucky Corner during Marcantonio’s re-election campaign during the 1940s

A.   Lucky Corner 116th Street and Lexington Avenue, where massive election-eve rallies were held.  15,000 rallied here for Marcantonio in 1948 (p.39).

B.   Marc’s first district office/ Fiorello LaGuardia Political Association (later Vito Marcantonio Political Association) 247 East 116 Street (now a dentist office).

C.   Madison Square Garden (where it stood before the current one) 8th Avenue between 50th and 49th Streets.  He rallied with workers there in 1935 (p.25), and was the main attraction in 1948 for a campaign speech attended by 18,000 (p.39).

D.   Marc’s Yorkville district office (where his biographer, Annette T. Rubinstein, worked on his staff) 1484 First Avenue .  In 1956, Rubinstein and associates (The Vito Marcantonio Memorial) edited and published I Vote My Conscience: debates, speeches and writings of Vito Marcantonio (1935-1950).

E.   Benjamin Franklin High School — since re-named more than once — 116th Street between Pleasant Avenue and the FDR Drive.  One of Marcantonio’s primary mentors, Leonard Covello, was its founding principal. He spoke at its 1942 dedication (p.123). Frank Sinatra sang a concert there to quell racial tensions while future jazz great Sonny Rollins said the concert changed his life. (for more info click here)

Imagining Neighborhood As Well As Early Life Beyond Italian Harlem

1.    Marcantonio’s Childhood Home 325 E. 112th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues).  This building was replaced by Thomas Jefferson Houses, a NYCHA development.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church

2.    Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church (448 East 116th Street), where Marc received a certificate of baptismal although he was not observant as an adult.

3.    PS 85 @ 1st Avenue and East 117th Street where Salvatore John LaGumina’s Vito Marcantonio: The People’s Politician reports he attended elementary school on page 2.

4.    Old DeWitt Clinton High School 899 10th Avenue.  It is now Haaren Hall on the campus of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  Marc graduated with the class of 1921 before attending law school at New York University.

5.    Leonard Covello’s House, his primary mentor, 229 East 116 Street.

6.    LaGuardia Memorial House (known as Haarlem House when Marc worked there) 307 East 116th Street.  His wife Miriam Sanders worked there for many years.

7.    Marcantonio-Sanders House 231 East 116 Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues).

8.    Fiorello LaGuardia’s Home at 5th Avenue and 109th Street is an apartment building known as Stonehedge.

Where Marc Was Last Seen…and Still Rests

F.    A massive heart attack overcame Marc on the East side of Broadway in front of City Hall Park, across the street from the Woolworth Building.

G.    Giordano’s Funeral Home 1st Avenue and 115th Street (now www.firstavenuefuneral.com), where his well-attended wake took place.  See p.183.

Vito Marcantonio Forum commemoration at Marc's gravesite in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx

Marc’s grave at Woodlawn Cemetery

H.   Woodlawn Cemetery  Vito Marcantonio is buried in the Oakwood Section within 50 feet of his mentor, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The grave site is on the west side of the hill near the intersection of Park Avenue and Myosotis Avenue. The Vito Marcantonio Forum hosts an annual event there on or near the anniversary of his death: August 9th, 1954. See their website for more details.

You may also enjoy a 60 minute walking tour of Vito Marcantonio’s Harlem by clicking here!

The Bronx Chronicle reported on the 2014 commemoration.  Read that story here!  Oggi America also offers a remembrance of that day.  You may find that article here!


Morgan Powell
Horticulture & Literature

Harlem, Jacob Lawrence, 1946

Harlem, Jacob Lawrence, 1946

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: