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News ::
Sacco & Vanzetti Event at Lucy Parsons Center
27 Aug 2002
Remembering Sacco & Vanzetti:
75th Anniversary Event Commemerating the Italian Anarchists' Execution
Remembering Sacco & Vanzetti:
75th Anniversary Event Commemerating the Italian Anarchists' Execution

Friday, September 6th, 7pm

Lucy Parsons Center
549 Columbus Ave.
Boston's South End
(617) 267-6272

On August 23rd, 1927, the State of Massachusetts executed immigrant anarchists,
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, after an international campaign to stop
their execution. Accused of a 1920 robbery, the anarchists were tried amidst
the xenophobic and anti-leftist sentiments of Palmer-raid America. They sat
before an admittedly biased judge and were convicted contrary to evidence of
their innocence. In the years following, the Sacco-Vanzetti trial became the
best example of radicals being railroaded for their political beliefs.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Italian anarchists' execution, and
to commemarate this event, we present the following...



Fact, Opinion, and Memory:
The Sacco & Vanzetti Case 75 Years Later

by Bob D'Attillo

[Bob D'Attilio is a historian who has written about Italian-American experience,
particularly Italian anarchism in the United States and the Sacco & Vanzetti
case. He is a member of the Sacco and Vanzetti Educational Trust of the Dante
Alighieri Society of Massachusetts, and a former member of the Boston-based
anarchist collective Black Rose, 1978-1992]



Sacco and Vanzetti (1971), a film by Italian director Giuliano Montaldo; 120


**sponsored by Boston NEFAC and the Lucy Parsons Center**

"Everything should be done to keep alive the tragic affair of
Sacco and Vanzetti in the conscience of mankind."


Sacco and Vanzetti
by Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman

[Published in The Road to Freedom (New York), Vol. 5, Aug. 1929.]

THE names of the "good shoe-maker and poor fish-peddler" have ceased to
represent merely two Italian workingmen. Throughout the civilised world Sacco
and Vanzetti have become a symbol, the shibboleth of Justice crushed by Might.
That is the great historic significance of this twentieth century crucifixion,
and truly prophetic, were the words of Vanzetti when he declared, "The last
moment belongs to us--that agony is our triumph."

We hear a great deal of progress and by that people usually mean improvements of
various kinds, mostly life-saving discoveries and labor-saving inventions, or
reforms in the social and political life. These may or may not represent a real
advance because reform is not necessarily progress.

It is an entirely false and vicious conception that civilisation consists of
mechanical or political changes. Even the greatest improvements do not, in
themselves, indicate real progress: they merely symbolise its results. True
civilization, real progress consists in humanising mankind, in making the world
a decent place to live in. From this viewpoint we are very far from being
civilised, in spite of all the reforms and improvements.

True progress is a struggle against the inhumanity of our social existence,
against the barbarity of dominant conceptions. In other words, progress is a
spiritual struggle, a struggle to free man from his brutish inheritance, from
the fear and cruelty of his primitive condition. Breaking the shackles of
ignorance and superstition; liberating man from the grip of enslaving ideas and
practices; driving darkness out of his mind and terror out of his heart;
raising him from his abject posture to man's full stature--that is the mission
of progress. Only thus does man, individually and collectively, become truly
civilised and our social life more human and worth while.

This struggle marks the real history of progress. Its heroes are not the
Napoleons and the Bismarcks, not the generals and politicians. Its path is
lined with the unmarked graves of the Saccos and Vanzettis of humanity, dotted
with the auto-da-fé, the torture chambers, the gallows and the electric chair.
To those martyrs of justice and liberty we owe what little of real progress and
civilization we have today.

The anniversary of our comrades' death is therefore by no means an occasion for
mourning. On the contrary, we should rejoice that in this time of debasement
and degradation, in the hysteria of conquest and gain, there are still MEN that
dare defy the dominant spirit and raise their voices against inhumanity and
reaction: That there are still men who keep the spark of reason and liberty
alive and have the courage to die, and die triumphantly, for their daring.

For Sacco and Vanzetti died, as the entire world knows today, because they were
Anarchists. That is to say, because they believed and preached human
brotherhood and freedom. As such, they could expect neither justice nor
humanity. For the Masters of Life can forgive any offense or crime but never an
attempt to undermine their security on the backs of the masses. Therefore Sacco
and Vanzetti had to die, notwithstanding the protests of the entire world.

Yet Vanzetti was right when he declared that his execution was his greatest
triumph, for all through history it has been the martyrs of progress that have
ultimately triumphed. Where are the Caesars and Torquemadas of yesterday? Who
remembers the names of the judges who condemned Giordano Bruno and John Brown?
The Parsons and the Ferrers, the Saccos and Vanzettis live eternal and their
spirits still march on.

Let no despair enter our hearts over the graves of Sacco and Vanzetti. The duty
we owe them for the crime we have committed in permitting their death is to
keep their memory green and the banner of their Anarchist ideal high. And let
no near-sighted pessimist confuse and confound the true facts of man's history,
of his rise to greater manhood and liberty. In the long struggle from darkness
to light, in the age-old fight for greater freedom and welfare, it is the
rebel, the martyr who has won. Slavery has given way, absolutism is crushed,
feudalism and serfdom had to go, thrones have been broken and republics
established in their stead. Inevitably, the martyrs and their ideas have
triumphed, in spite of gallows and electric chairs. Inevitably, the people, the
masses, have been gaining on their masters, till now the very citadels of
Might, Capital and the State, are being endangered. Russia has shown the
direction of the further progress by its attempt to eliminate both the economic
and political master. That initial experiment has failed, as all first great
social revaluations require repeated efforts for their realisation. But that
magnificent historic failure is like unto the martyrdom of Sacco and
Vanzetti--the symbol and guarantee of ultimate triumph.

Let it be clearly remembered, however, that the failure of FIRST attempts at
fundamental social change is always due to the false method of trying to
establish the NEW by OLD means and practices. The NEW can conquer only by means
of its own new spirit. Tyranny lives by suppression; Liberty thrives on
freedom. The fatal mistake of the great Russian Revolution was that it tried to
establish new forms of social and economic life on the old foundation of
coercion and force. The entire development of human society has been AWAY from
coercion and government, away from authority towards greater freedom and
independence. In that struggle the spirit of liberty has ultimately won out. In
the same direction lies further achievement. All history proves it and Russia
is the most convincing recent demonstration of it. Let us then learn that
lesson and be inspired to greater efforts in behalf of a new world of humanity
and freedom, and may the triumphant martyrdom of Sacco and Vanzetti give us
greater strength and endurance in this superb struggle.

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