Vito Marcantonio Centennial Celebration (December 8, 2002)

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at
Mon Dec 2 18:45:33 MST 2002

The Vito Marcantonio Centennial Celebration

A Celebration of the Life and Work of the Legendary East Harlem

"The Vito Marcantonio Centennial Celebration," will occur on Sunday,
December 8, 2002 at 1:00 pm in the auditorium of the Museum of the City of
New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, Manhattan.  For more
information: (212) 534-1672.

The event will feature film footage of the life and career of Vito
Marcantonio and presentations by author Annette Rubinstein, Gerald Meyer,
author of Vito Marcantonio: Radical Politician, Roberto Ragone, President
of FIERI International, and Philip V. Cannistraro, Executive Director of
the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.

This event is a tribute to the life and work of the legendary East
Harlem Congressman Vito Marcantonio (1902-1954) and a celebration of this
major figure in the Italian American experience.  From 1934 to 1950,
Marcantonio was one of only a handful of Italian Americans serving in the
United States House of Representatives.  There, he served the East Harlem
community and all those who had been left out of the American dream.  It
is auspicious that this event is being held in his Congressional District
where he lived his entire life as a protégé to Fiorello LaGuardia and then
as a leader in his own right.  In the House, Marcantonio became the major
leader for civil rights, sponsoring the anti-lynching bill, the anti-poll
tax bill, and the appropriation bill for the Fair Employment Practices
Commission.  He ably represented Puerto Rico, which had no representative
in Congress.  He never forgot his own people, who he defended against
defamation.  Marcantonio insisted that liberated Italy not be treated as a
conquered Axis country, but an ally in the war against international
fascism.  In the postwar years, Marcantonio fought an increasingly lonely
battle against the government's cold war policies at home and abroad.  In
his district, he provided leadership and legendary service.  His
availability and service to East Harlem's residents and anyone else who
asked led many to revere him.  Marcantonio was born in 1902 on East 112th
Street and when he died in 1954 he lived on East 116th Street.  A man who
had attained a national reputation had in a sense never left the block.
This event represents a great opportunity for the community's residents
and all others who admire Marcantonio to recall and celebrate, as he liked
to be called, "the people's politician."

The highlight of this event will be the announcement and
presentation of the book I Vote My Conscience: Debates, Speeches, and
Writing of Vito Marcantonio, edited by Annette T. Rubinstein in 1956, and
reprinted in 2002 by the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute.
This invaluable work consists of almost five hundred pages of the debates
of Marcantonio in the House of Representatives where he served for sixteen
years representing East Harlem as the sole member of the American Labor
Party.  This book also features  excerpts from the legal briefs of
Marcantonio in the successful courtroom defense of
W. E. B. DuBois and William Patterson, as well as thirty pages of
photographs.  This edition of the book also contains a new introduction
and a biography of Annette Rubinstein by Gerald Meyer.

This event is co-sponsored by:  the John D. Calandra Italian
American Institute, Queens College/CUNY, East Harlem Historical
Organization, FIERI International, and the National Italian American

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