Italian American Digest JT DIGEST Summer 2018 June First (1) - Page 10




Opera in the Piazza Friday , June 15 at 7pm ( Doors at 6:30pm ) Piazza d ’ Italia 377 Poydras St , New Orleans
Join us for an evening under the stars at the newly renovated Piazza d ’ Italia ! This will be a night of Italian opera , Italian food , and fun with friends . Advance tickets are $ 15 for AICC members , $ 20 for non-members , and $ 50 for VIP . ( VIP tickets include priority seating , private restrooms , and access to the air-conditioned AICC VIP room for refreshments and snacks .) Tickets will be $ 25 at the door . Food and drink will be available for purchase . To purchase advance tickets , visit www . AmericanItalianCulturalCenter . com or call ( 504 ) 522-7294 .
Summer 2018 Italian Language Classes Beginning the week of June 18 American Italian Cultural Center The AICC hosts Italian language classes in downtown New Orleans and in Metairie . The 90-minute classes meet once a week for 8 weeks . All classes are taught by Alessandro , a native Italian , and have a friendly , motivating environment . The AICC offers four different class levels : novice , intermediate , advanced / superior , and a traveler ’ s course specifically for those going to Italy . Call us at ( 504 ) 522-7294 or visit www . AmericanItalianCulturalCenter . com to learn more !
Bebop , Swing , and Bella Musica : Jazz and the Italian American Experience Friday , June 22 at 7pm American Italian Cultural Center
Authors Bill Dal Cerro and David Anthony Witter will present their book , Bebop , Swing and Bella Musica : Jazz and the Italian American Experience . Italian Americans such as Frank Sinatra , Louis Prima , Louie Bellson , Lennie Tristano , Tony Bennett , Buddy DeFranco , Flip Phillips and Joe Lovano , and many others have enriched the jazz genre since its inception in New Orleans though the big band , swing , bebop , and into the modern era . This book features interviews with musicians and illustrates the prejudices Italians faced in pursuit of the American Dream .
The lecture is free for AICC Members and students with a valid university or high school ID . For non-members , the suggested donation is $ 10 . The book will be available for purchase for $ 20 ; please call the AICC at ( 504 ) 522-7294 if you ’ d like to reserve a copy !
Lecture : Italian Influences on New Orleans Area Cemeteries Thursday , July 19 at 6:30pm American Italian Cultural Center
Join Emily Ford of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation , LLC and discover the influences that Italians had on cemeteries in New Orleans and in Metairie ! This lecture will draw from the historic landscapes of all local cemeteries and from Ms . Ford ’ s ongoing research into the preservation of Italian heritage . We will explore the Metairie Cemetery row of Italian society tombs ; the influence of 1850s Italian sculptor Americo Marozzi on Bywater cemeteries like St . Vincent de Paul and St . Roch ; and hidden Florentine masterpieces in Cypress Grove . Emily will also present lesser-known Italian burial places and society tombs , including those in Odd Fellows Rest and Valence Street Cemeteries , and some curious tales of Italian-Americans buried in historic New Orleans cemeteries .
The lecture is free for AICC Members and students with a valid university or high school ID . For non-members , the suggested donation is $ 10 .

Cefalutana Società Wishes New Orleans Buon Compleanno

by Rose Brocato

Happy 300th birthday New Orleans !

When did Sicilians come to Louisiana ? The Società Italiana di Mutua Benefincenza Cefalutana was founded in New Orleans on June 19 , 1887 , and incorporated on August 10 , 1887 . The purpose of this society was to assist others in time of illness , death , financial need , language and cultural difficulties .
Most Sicilian immigrants came to Louisiana in the late 1880s because their homeland had become dangerous and corrupt . The Sicilians feared for their future , so they came to America to follow a dream and to provide a better life for their children . This was the case with my own grandparents , who were born in Cefalu and immigrated to Louisiana in the early 1900s .
People of Italian descent make up a significant percentage of Louisiana ’ s population , especially in New Orleans and Independence . Most Italian immigrants arrived through the port of New Orleans , but not my grandparents ; they arrived in New York and were processed through Ellis Island . They stayed for a short time in New York but had relatives in Louisiana , so they moved here to go into the grocery business .
Italians have been in Louisiana for over 300 years . When Italians arrived in New Orleans , there were already Italian immigrants who had established a large community dating back to the French era . Italian-born Henri de Tonti explored Louisiana before New Orleans even existed . ( Tonti Street is named after him .) An area of the French Quarter was called “ Little Italy ” because so many Italians lived and worked there .
But life for Sicilians in New Orleans was not easy , as there were many prejudices against them . On March 14 , 1891 , eleven Italians were lynched after a mob led by the leading citizens of New Orleans broke into the City Jail . All eleven had been proven innocent by a jury of their peers the day before . In 1899 , five Sicilian were lynched in Tullaluh , La . All were from Cefalu , Sicily . After the 1891 lynching , many of these societies changed their names , but not the Cefalutana Società .
In a recent interview , Sal Serio , custodian of the American Italian Research Library in Jefferson Parish ( and Cefalutana Società presidente for many years ), shares how these benevolent societies here in New Orleans were vital to the Sicilian community . There were also hundreds of trade organizations that many Sicilians belong to but went underground during the war . The Sicilians needed a passport to immigrate to America . They were recruited to work in the sugar and wood mills , in the cotton and strawberry fields , and on the Mississippi River . After slavery was abolished , these jobs were becoming more available . The Sicilians were very family-oriented and loyal to their new home country of America .
Sal has lived most of his life in New Orleans except for his time in the U . S . Marine Corps during the Korean War and five years working in Dallas . Sal ’ s father was affiliated with the French Market Ice Company , which was in the 1000 block of Chartres . Sal ’ s family lived mainly in the Gentilly area and a short time on Dryades and First streets . Sal continues to represent and promote his Sicilian heritage here in New Orleans , especially with his work in genealogy .
I asked Sal why he felt that the Cefalutana Società is such a vital part of the Italian community here in New Orleans and he said , “ We must represent not only to ourselves but to all Italians , our history , and traditions and keep them alive .”
In the Società Italiana di Mutua Benefincenza Cefalutana , six generations of Sicilians from Cefalu are represented . Every year our benevolent society honors a Cabrini student for academic excellence ; in August , we honor our patron saint , Gesu Salvatore ; our annual Day at the Races is held at the New Orleans Fairgrounds ; and we have many other events to reinforce and celebrate our cultural identity . Our members of the Cefalutana Società are dedicated to keeping the traditions of our Sicilian community alive in New Orleans for many years to come .