23 August marks the date in 1927 on which Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Massachusetts. The pair were Italian immigrants, Sacco worked as a shoemaker and Vanzetti was a fish peddler. Both were political anarchist activists.
Arrested for a payroll robbery in which two men were was killed, they both proclaimed their innocence, sparking world-wide protests for their freedom.
The trial was widely viewed as badly tainted by anti-immigrant sentiment and political persecution. The cause of Sacco and Vanzetti spawned numerous plays, songs, films and books.
The day before the execution, 20,000 people gathered on Boston Common to protest. Following the execution, 10,000 people viewed their caskets in mourning over a period of two days and 200,000 lined the route of the funeral procession.
In 1977, Governor Michael Dukakis proclaimed 23 August to be ‘Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ and issued a proclamation that read in part: “any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, from the names of their families and descendants, and so, from the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and I hereby call upon all the people of Massachusetts to pause in their daily endeavors to reflect upon these tragic events, and draw from their historic lessons the resolve to prevent the forces of intolerance, fear, and hatred from ever again uniting to overcome rationality, wisdom, and fairness to which our legal system aspires.”
Next month, on 22 September, the Campus Workers Collective is sponsoring an educational event about Sacco and Vanzetti, you can learn more by clicking this link….