THE ITALIAN AMERICANS
Air date: Tues., Feb. 17, 9:00 pm
La Famiglia/Becoming Americans
This series chronicles the evolution of Italian Americans from the late 19th century to today. Once “outsiders” viewed with suspicion and mistrust, Italian Americans are today some of the most prominent leaders of U.S. business, politics and the arts. The series peels away myths and stereotypes to reveal a world uniquely Italian and uniquely American. Among those interviewed are Tony Bennett, David Chase, John Turturro, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Gay Talese and many others. Stanley Tucci narrates.
By the late 19th century, Italians begin to put down roots and “Little Italys” spring up in urban areas throughout the U.S. But the first generation, holding onto language and culture, is branded “outsiders” and mistrusted by non-Italians. In New Orleans, this mistrust explodes into violence and 11 Italian Americans are murdered by an armed mob. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, a second-generation Italian American saves his community from disaster while creating one of the greatest financial institutions in America.
At the turn of the 20th century, more than four million Italians immigrate to America. Leonard Covello is forced to give up his “old world” ways and adopt American mores, including changing his name; Arturo Giovannitti, a new immigrant, leads the largest labor strike of 1912, when Italian Americans push for better working conditions and wages. Italian Americans are forced to worship in the basement of churches controlled by the Irish archdiocese; anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are executed, reinforcing stereotypes that follow Italian Americans today.
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