Italian Heritage month is not celebrated – OPINION

Sofia Rositani Editor-in-Chief

Antonio Bagnetto, Rocco Geraci, Loreto Comitis, Charles Traina and 7 more were lynched on March 14, 1891, in New Orleans on the street that is now used for Mardi Gras parades. 

 Italian Americans did not get an apology until March of 2019 by the mayor of New Orleans.  

“Nobody thinks of an Italian being lynched, when it was common practice back then,” John Fratta, from the Order of the Sons of Italy said in an article from BBC. “So [the apology] is more of an education, especially for younger Italian-Americans.” He added, “Also to let these 11 souls rest in peace, knowing that they got the apology they deserved.” 

Few people would think that Italians were lynched or had slurs thrown at them but that is so far from the truth. Many Italian immigrants, especially those from Southern Italy, including my family, were considered “scum” and were treated as such. With slurs like “wop,” “Guido” and “guinea” being yelled and used by those who were racist toward Italians.  

Today we have no celebrations for Italian American heritage month, most of it steeped in anger due to “Columbus Day.” But rather than getting angry at the holiday and the name, people should read and learn why it was created. We do not use it to celebrate Christopher Columbus, Italians in America use this day to celebrate our ancestors who fought to get to a country that did not even care about them. A country that killed 11 innocent men, and probably more, and to this day celebrate on the same road that these lynchings occurred.  

“President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration in 1892 — in the wake of a bloody New Orleans lynching that took the lives of 11 Italian immigrants. The proclamation was part of a broader attempt to quiet outrage among Italian-Americans, and a diplomatic blowup over the murders that brought Italy and the United States to the brink of war,” according to an article from the New York Times.  

While the entire reason for creating this holiday was to shut up those who were upset with this country, it now further pushes the Italian culture away from being celebrated. I do not like this at all. As an Italian woman, it is my job to make sure this state and this country knows that we will not go down without a fight. We deserve to be celebrated as much as any other culture but this university, this state and this country continue to turn their heads away from us and do not care.  

You can say I am being very overdramatic or even sound crazy, but as someone who has not even seen anything pertaining to it being Italian-American Heritage month, or the fact that I am forced to be quiet when I want to speak about the culture I grew up in makes me disheartened. 

“Columbus Day” is considered controversial to celebrate. If people want to change the name go ahead but change it to an Italian or better yet call it “Italian Heritage Day.”  

I understand writing this is very controversial, but I have a right to be upset when a city that prides itself on being Italian and having the best “pizza” does not even celebrate a month meant for the people who created it. And this university is very hypocritical because they say they are for diversity and culture but have yet to do anything to celebrate this month.  

I am a senior and I have not seen anything in the four years I have been here, and I am genuinely upset about this. My friend and I have been trying to set up meetings for two weeks to go over this, but it has yet to happen, and I highly doubt that it will. It upsets me as someone who wants to actively see change on this campus such as teaching students and faculty about my culture.  


  • Your president is Italian American. Demand to see him.

  • I am an Italian American and am also frustrated that there is no awareness of October being Italian American Heritage month. Why is our heritage not being acknowledged? I see October is also Hispanic Heritage month and Filipino Heritage month, lots of celebration for those cultures. Nothing against them. But, it angers me that no one seems to know October is Italian American month. I came across this article trying to find more info. At least now I know I am not alone! Thank you for writing this.

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