In the Interim

In the Interim – 1999

My own research and thinking about Vanzetti and Sacco matured. Looming as well was the possibility of commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the execution.


I met with Anthony Riccio concerning his book (Portrait of an Italian American Neighborhood), which was now published, and its observations of the North End. He decided that, in a methodical way, he would begin interviews and the previously unexplored historical research into the Italian American experience in New Haven. He would include in his interviews some questions about Sacco and Vanzetti. (Although, at that time, a publication date and publisher were uncertain, Anthony Riccio’s thoughtful and scholarly work was published to a deeply held acclaim in 2006 (see The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral History, Albany: State University Press of New York).

Anthony’s work on the North End, retitled Boston’s North End: Images and Recollections of an Italian-American Neighborhood, also was reissued recently by the Globe Pequot Press with an expanded narrative.

I spoke informally with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Mayor John DeStefano about the value and form of a commemoration. New Haven-which is the cultural and arts capital of Connecticut-would be ideally suited for such an effort. A commemoration would be broadly defined. It would be not merely a retrospective but a new opportunity to call on the insight and imagination of the people of New Haven in the same manner that this controversy had called upon, historically, the imagination of others in art and literature and music.

The event also was an opportunity to engage the greater New Haven Italian American community in its own introspective look at the meaning of the fight for the lives of Vanzetti and Sacco.

In early 1999, a “commemoration” remained an idea. I welcomed the opportunity provided by an invitation from the Graduate Club in New Haven to think and speak, once again, on Sacco and Vanzetti.