5 petitions

Started 1 year ago

Petition to U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate

Demand an Apology from Congress for the Mistreatment of Italian Americans During WWII

During World War II, the United States government interned, relocated, and confiscated the property of thousands of Italian Americans. Hundreds of Italians were arrested, put on a train with darkened windows, and sent to internment camps across the United States. Thousands were arrested and taken into custody, many without a warrant. 10,000 Italians were relocated and forced from their homes, including the elderly and immobile. 600,000 Italians were classified as "enemy aliens" and faced movement restrictions, curfews, job loss, and property confiscation.  The federal government has never apologized for these civil liberty violations. The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) wants to change that. On December 1, 2015, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California introduced H.R. 4146 and H.R. 4147.  The first bill requests funds to provide grants for education programs on the history of Italian Americans during World War II. The latter asks for an official apology for the mistreatment of Italian Americans during that time.  In 2000, Congress directed the Attorney General to conduct an extensive review of Italian American treatment during World War II. In 2001, the Justice Department released its report, outlining the injustices committed against Italians living in the United States in the 1940's. It's now 15 years later. There has been no follow up and no official apology.  Acknowledging, apologizing for, and studying the treatment of Italian Americans during World War II will help repair the Italian American community and discourage the occurrence of similar injustices and violations of civil liberties in the future. The federal government must safeguard civil liberties and protect the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. This is about more than Italian Americans. This is about all of us.  Join us and ask Congress to apologize for the government's treatment of Italian Americans during World War II. Call on Congress to pass H.R. 4146 and 4147.   Left photo credit Texas Historical Commission

National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)
2,039 supporters
Started 2 years ago

Petition to Elected Officials of Philadelphia

Preserve the Christopher Columbus Day Parade, Festivities, Statues, Relics, and Monuments in Philadelphia

PRESERVE THE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS DAY PARADE AND STATUES/RELICS   Recent movements to alter the tradition of the Christopher Columbus Day Parade in South Philadelphia along with all Statutes and Relics associated with the holiday and historical figure will destroy a deeply embedded history amongst the Italian-American community in the Tri-State area.    Observed on the second Monday in October, Columbus Day in the Philadelphia region gained prominence as Italian immigrant communities grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By commemorating the 1492 arrival of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) in the New World, Italian-Americans embraced the navigator as their countryman, celebrated Italian culture, and called attention to their American loyalty and identity. While the practices and places for observing Columbus Day changed over time, the holiday in Philadelphia and its suburbs retained a distinctively Italian flavor.   The first major anniversary of Columbus to be celebrated in the United States, 1792, passed quietly in Philadelphia although not without notice. While Boston and New York hosted public events, in Philadelphia the nationally circulated Daily American Advertiser published an oration about Columbus delivered earlier at Princeton College in New Jersey.   The reputation of Columbus as an American hero grew during the nineteenth century following the 1827 publication of The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, by Washington Irving. It was not until the 1860s, however, that Columbus Day emerged as an annual celebration among Italian immigrant communities, first in New York in 1866 and in Philadelphia by 1869. That year, the Societá di Unione e Fratellanza Italiana, a mutual aid society in South Philadelphia, held the first in a series of annual balls on October 12 and made honoring Columbus one of its central activities. In 1876, Italian-Americans dedicated a monument of Columbus in Fairmount Park as their contribution to the Centennial celebration of the United States.   Italian-Americans embraced Columbus because of the place of his birth, the city-state of Genoa, within the region that became part of the Italian nation formed in 1861. Although Columbus’s birthplace has at times been debated by scholars and others, nineteenth-century immigrants to the United States did not question their shared heritage with the “discoverer” of America. They also identified with Columbus on the basis of shared religion, and the Catholic Church became a major proponent of commemorating Columbus for his role in extending Catholicism to the New World.   The ethnic and religious character of the holiday was clear in Philadelphia in 1892, the four-hundredth anniversary of the first Columbus voyage, which came in the midst of a surge of Italian immigration. In addition to celebrations in Italian neighborhoods, the Columbus commemoration activities that year included a torchlight parade of Catholic organizations on Broad Street, a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Cathedral on Logan Square, and a performance by parochial schoolchildren at the Academy of Music.   As an expression of American identity, Columbus Day had a patriotic spirit that combined with its ties to religion and ethnicity. As state governments began to grant legal status to the holiday in the first decades of the twentieth century, participation widened to include public officials, office-seekers, and military units. Patriotic overtones were especially apparent in Philadelphia during the Cold War era as parades and ceremonies at Independence Hall from the 1950s through the 1970s symbolically linked the arrival of Columbus in America with the founding of the republic.   Monuments to Christopher Columbus have anchored and sometimes shifted the location of Columbus Day observances. The Columbus monument dedicated in Fairmount Park in 1876 served as a focal point for commemoration for the next century, until the statue was moved to Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia during the bicentennial year of 1976. Following its dedication there by Mayor Frank Rizzo (1920-91), the monument’s new location in the city’s traditionally Italian neighborhood became the destination of the annual Columbus Day parade. In Camden, a Columbus monument erected in 1915 by the Sons of Italy in Forest Hill Park (later renamed Farnham Park) played a similar role as a site of commemoration in the first half of the twentieth century. A Columbus monument in Norristown, Pennsylvania, dedicated in 1992 after years of effort, from that point forward became the centerpiece for celebration each year in the Montgomery County seat.   By the time of the five-hundredth anniversary of the first Columbus voyage in 1992, celebrating the navigator became more controversial and contentious. When the Philadelphia City Council voted in 1989 to rename a portion of Delaware Avenue as Columbus Boulevard, Native Americans protested that Columbus represented conquest of their land and neighborhood groups resisted the loss of a familiar street name. In 1992 Penn’s Landing gained a new, modern obelisk to honor Columbus, but on the day of its unveiling a group dressed as Native Americans splattered the monument with red paint and painted over “Columbus Boulevard” street signs.   While the history and reputation of Columbus became a matter of national and international debate, the region’s tourism promoters sought to draw visitors with a year of events called “Neighbors in the New World,” to emphasize multicultural unity and progress. Many museums and organizations embraced the theme, but others such as the annual American Indian Arts Festival at the Rankokus Reservation in Burlington County, New Jersey, stressed the cultural traditions that Columbus’s arrival endangered.   Although 1992 added layers of multiculturalism and conflict to Columbus Day, in the early decades of the twenty-first century the holiday in Philadelphia and its suburbs continued to be a predominantly Italian affair. The obelisk at Penn’s Landing offered a new location for honoring the navigator, but the region’s major Columbus Day parade on Broad Street in South Philadelphia remained dominated by Italian heritage organizations and a celebration of the contributions of immigrants to Greater Philadelphia and the nation.   (Excerpt from - Charlene Mires is Professor of History at Rutgers-Camden and Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.) The Christopher Columbus Day Parade is a cherished Philadelphia Event and all Statues and Relics are also cherished.  Both the Parade and Statues currently attract families and history enthusiasts day in and day out. Altering or abolishing this event and all relics related to Christopher Columbus will destroy a common thread of the Philadelphia community and the tradition of the city of Philadelphia.   Petition:   We, the undersigned, want the Christopher Columbus Day Parade and all Statues, Relics, and Monuments to remain intact and as is for all to enjoy each day and annually.  We strongly oppose the abolition or alteration of the Christopher Columbus Parade and any Statues, Relics, and Monuments associated with Christopher Columbus or any Italian-American figure in Philadelphia.

Concerned Resident
628 supporters