By Danielle Clark
On Thursday, February 22nd, the Honors Program invited Dr. Michele Fazio of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke to speak at the monthly Pizza & Prof. Dr. Fazio, a BSU alumna, presented her research on the Italian labor radical figures, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, as well as her experience connecting her students to migrant workers in North Carolina.
At the beginning of her presentation, Dr. Fazio introduced the audience to working class studies, the field in which she studies, and how it relates to Sacco and Vanzetti. She then told the story of Sacco and Vanzetti, who were early 20th century Italian immigrants accused of a crime they did not commit and were later executed. Dr. Fazio explained that their radical labor and anarchist beliefs were the real reason they were executed. However, Sacco and Vanzetti’s deaths call into mind the social injustices of the time.
Dr. Fazio noticed a trend after travelling to both Boston and Italy for research. Even though Sacco and Vanzetti’s impactful story happened in America, it is shared less here than in Italy. In response to that, Dr. Fazio said, “Carrying the memory of these guys is important. It’s a great sense of pride [for Americans and Italian Americas]. However, here it is hush.”
During research, Dr. Fazio noticed that specific social justice movements—like death penalty abolitionists and Black Lives Matter—used Sacco and Vanzetti imagery to further their causes. “It is all about how we recall our own history and use it in the present,” Dr. Fazio stated.
Later, Dr. Fazio discussed North Carolina’s migrant workers and the projects her students completed. She highlighted the social injustices that migrant workers face in North Carolina: lack of food, lack of proper living space, and strenuous working conditions.
In order to increase awareness and empathy toward migrant workers, Dr. Fazio led students to participate in creative and educational projects. Some of the projects included creating murals, speaking with migrant working students, and carrying out poetry workshops.
Dr. Fazio’s presentation exemplified reasons why we should not forget or ignore those who are subject to social injustice. We as people should do what we can to help those who suffer social injustice so they have a voice.