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Diaspora Series: Multiculturalism and Cultural Identities in the 21st Century

Sicilians in the ‘Magic City’ of the South: The Italians of Birmingham, Alabama

Wednesday, October 30 at 7:00pm

At the end of the 19th century, a small number of Sicilians immigrated from the village of Bisacquino, near Palermo, to settle in the heart of Dixie where the city of Birmingham soon became a booming centre around the production of steel. In their new surroundings, Sicilians thrived, eventually founding the Italian newspaper, “Il Gladiatore.”

This notable paper later became the primary source for the study of the socio-cultural activities, political engagement and devotional aspects of the local Italians’ life in those days. And, through a series of archival and unpublished “Il Gladiatore” documents, this exhibit illustrates the phases that led to the integration and cultural hybridization of the Italian community of Birmingham on the road to its Americanization.

“Who Killa Da Chief?”: The Sicilian Community and the Long Shadow of the Mafia in 1891 New Orleans

Wednesday, November 6 at 7:00pm

On March 14, 1891, in New Orleans, a mob lynched 11 Italian- Americans, most of whom were of Sicilian descent. Their crime? Their alleged role in the murder of Irish Police Chief, David Hennessy.

The massacre and resulting media frenzy would forever stereotype Italian-Americans as criminals. And, the ensuing mob “justice” marked a dark chapter in U.S. civic history, as the term “mafia” was introduced into the North American vernacular.

This talk will reconstruct the days leading up to the murder of the 11 Italian-Americans. Through the analysis of the surviving trial papers, Italian-American and local press and other documentary evidence, we explore one of the darkest moments in the history of the Sicilian (and Italian) Diasporas.

Price: Free Admission
Location: Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery Columbus Centre

The Diaspora Series is presented in partnership with Istituto Italiano di Cultura

For more information, please contact cultural@villacharities.com or call 416-789-7011 ext. 248.