Shortly after midnight on August 23, 1927, 36-year-old Nicola Sacco and 39-year-old Bartolomeo Vanzetti were electrocuted in Charlestown prison in Massachusetts.
Their trial was a travesty of justice. Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrants, both active anarchists, who were found guilty of robbery and murder. A seven-year appeal process during which the two men were separated and often held in solitary confinement, proved fruitless.
Their electrocutions outraged the moral conscience of the world, resulting in riots in Paris and London. In Massachusetts, more than 100,000 mourners stood on line to pay respect to these fallen heroes. Before their deaths, Sacco and Vanzetti said that they hoped their sacrifice would serve to prevent the state from inflicting, on others, similar injustices. The power of their martyrdom depends upon the memory and knowledge of their lives. Without that, we are bound to make the same errors again and again. To make people aware of Sacco and Vanzetti, is to keep their memory alive. It is a form of resistance to the prejudice and injustice that resulted in their executions.
“Remembering Sacco and Vanzetti” : Performance and Video
Watch the video featuring a reading/performance by David Margulies and Maria Barrientos, artwork by Marc Shanker, based on the letters of Sacco and Vanzetti to friends and family, and statements to the court. Performances of “Remembering Sacco and Vanzetti” have been held in Word-Up Bookstore, NYC, and the Anarchist Book Fair, NYC.
I first learned of Sacco and Vanzetti from my father. He was of that generation. In my early teens, when I was becoming politically active, my father said, “If you want to learn about politics, read the letters of Sacco and Vanzetti.”
Some thirty years later, I found a book of their letters in a small storefront bookstore in a remote fishing village in northern Maine. It took me almost ten years to finally read the book cover-to-cover. Joan Baez called Sacco and Vanzetti “America’s most famous political prisoners.”
Their trial and execution were imprinted on the moral conscience of an entire generation. Their execution has been described as “an unending wrong.” It serves as a warning against prejudice and xenophobia.
You can purchase the poster at Gravity Free Press.