Guarini Institute - Sacco and Vanzetti: The Story of Nick and Bart

On Tuesday, November 12th, the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs hosted a Screening of Sacco and Vanzetti, the famous movie directed by Giuliano Montaldo. Published in 1971, the movie is an occasion to remember their unfair conviction happened 50 years earlier. Professor Argentieri (JCU) and Professor Cannato (University of Massachusetts Boston) introduced the screening.

Professor Cannato brilliantly described to the audience the historical and political scenario of the early post World War I years in America. At that time, the United States were shaken by a large number of labor strikes and other forms of political violence. Workers increasingly entered the rows of pro-violence and anti-government groups. A widespread fear of a leftist takeover entered the political culture of the United States, also in light of the recent Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

This is when, in 1919, a guard is murdered outside of a factory in the periphery of Boston, Massachusetts. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian workers adhering to the anarchist movement, are arrested and tried for the murder. Since the very beginning, it is clear that the judge and the jury are politically motivated to convict them. The left from around the world stands up in support of Sacco and Vanzetti, acknowledging the fact that they are being unjustly tried for political reasons. Mass demonstrations are held all over the western world, but no effect is achieved on the trial itself.

In 1921, Sacco and Vanzetti are convicted and sentenced to death, among several doubts on the fairness of the trial. After a long appeal procedure, they are executed in 1927.

Silent for some decades, the story of Sacco and Vanzetti became a myth for the new left movements of the late 60s and 70s; a tale of courage and active resistance against a government willingly silencing the freedom of expression of its citizens.