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Articles by: John Margherita

  • Events: Reports

    Inside Buffalo. An African-Italian Story

     On October 6 the Afro-American Museum in Philadelphia will host a screening of “Inside Buffalo” in partnership with the Italian Consulate General of Philadelphia.

    The multi-awarded documentary, defined as “a patchwork of stories that history almost forgot to tell”, has been shot both in Italy and in the USA and was first released in 2008. It recounts the story of the 92nd American infantry division which consisted in 15.000 soldiers who served in Italy during World War II, but that found that their contributions went unnoticed upon their return to the United States.

    Nicknamed “Buffalo Soldiers” after the name given by American Indians to the black

    members of the US Cavalry who fought Indians in the American West, they represent to the eyes of the Italian-African filmmaker Fred Kudjo Kuwornu an occasion to explore his own heritage and the history of Afro-American forces in Italy.

    The documentary is divided into three different periods (before, during, and after World War II until contemporary days) and focuses on the segregation of the Buffalo Soldiers in the army, their friendship with Italians, and the prejudices they were victims of when they went back to their home country.

    Their destiny, as Director Kuwornu shows the audience, is completely different from the one they were promised when they first joined the army to go to war. The “Double V” promise, in fact, had convinced them to risk their life for their country in the name of two Victories, one against Nazi-Fascism abroad, the other against prejudice at home. They found themselves fighting in one of the most difficult scenarios of the war, the Gothic Line, formed Field Marshal Albert Kesselring’s last major line of defence in the final stages of WWII along the summits of the Appenines during the fighting retreat of Nazi Germany’s forces against the Allied Armies commanded by General Clark.

    They fought restlessly, despite of the fact that the training they had received in Arizona was not sufficient to combat on high mountains during the coldest Italian winter of the 40s. Discriminated by their fellow soldiers behind the lines, they found the friendship and support of the Italian Partisan forces who had become highly active and effective in disrupting German actions on the high mountains.

    The story moves on to their return back home, where they still found prejudice among their fellow Americans, where they still had another battle to fight. Their story has been almost forgotten both in Italy and the US, but Director Kuwornu decided to bring it back to life when he met his friend and colleague Spike Lee in Tuscany just a year ago. At that time the latter was working on his “Miracolo di Sant’Anna” and inspired him to start this very personal voyage of discovery in Italian contemporary history.

    One of the peculiarities of this already multi-awarded movie is the participation of Congressional Medal of Honor in WWII Vermon Baker who recounts vividly his war-time experiences and the heroism showed by his unit of Buffalo Soldiers. Additionally to the appearance of former President Bill Clinton, director Kuwornu includes in his movie also the first African-American President of the history of the United States, Barack Obama. 


    Tuesday October 6, 6:00 pm
      "African American Museum  Philadelphia"  
    701 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
    RSVP [email protected]  (215) 574-0380 ext 220



  • Events: Reports

    Riding the Bull. Joseph Grano: a Predictable Hero in Wall Street

    Examples of Italian-Americans who have greatly contributed to the development and enrichment of the United States are countless. Government, Public Administration, Construction, Engineering, Art, and Cinema - they are present in every possible field, and , naturally, in the field of economics too.  

    Mr. Joseph Grano is without a doubt one of the columns of Wall Street, having witnessed and lived over 40 years of its history. In "You Can't Predict a Hero: From War to Wall Street, Leading in Times of Crisis", he recounts his lifetime achievements there, and the history of the contemporary American economic scene from one particular point of view, that of a businessman of Italian ancestry.

    He will read excerpts from his book and discuss the facts he narrates at the Calandra Italian American Institute on October 1, at 6 pm.

    "The reason why a book such as 'You Can't Predict a Hero: From War to Wall Street, Leading in Times of Crisis' interests the Calandra Institute is because it shows how an Italian-American that has grown up in a working-class environment can become just as successful as a person who grew up with a more favorable economic background and reach both national and international fame. Our institute primarily deals with the culture and history of Italian-Americans; but we also need to look at them in a broader landscape. Hosting Joseph Grano and presenting his book to the community becomes an occasion to show non Italians and non Italian-Americans that we do have, can have, and have had prestigious positions both at the national and international level", said Prof. Anthony J. Tamburri, Dean of the Calandra Institute. 
    Mr. Grano has not only been a witness to the changes in American finances in the last decades but has also been one of the creators of its deepest reforms. Grano began his career as a stock broker at Merrill Lynch, where he rose to various senior management positions over 16 years. A decorated war hero, he was chosen by the Bush Administration to be chairman of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council after 9/11, a position he held from 2002-2005. In the meantime he kept his position as chairman of UBS Financial Systems until 2004.

    It was this baggage of experiences within American financial corporations that led him to write this book, a source of inspiration for all those who operate in the field. The work, written in collaboration with bestselling author Mark Levine, is structured around six specific crises he faced and aims to leave the reader one main message: no matter how hard times can be, with optimism and determination you can still make it. This is what Joseph Grano writes but also has shown through his lifetime achievements:  whether leading draftees through combat as a Green Beret in Vietnam, regrouping a team of brokers during the market crash of 1987, or working tirelessly to reopen Wall Street after the attacks on 9/11, he has served in the front lines of our nation's most recent defining moments, leading and even inspiring others when things seemed at their darkest.

    The book is considered a vademecum for those operating in the field, and has already received praise from several trade magazines and newspapers. “I have read many books on ‘leadership.’ Joe Grano’s 'You Can’t Predict a Hero' is, quite simply, the best by far. This is a terrific book, for the story it tells, for the lessons it teaches, and for the solutions it offers. I recommend it highly.” said former Governor of New York George Pataki; he was echoed by internationally well-known businessman Lee Iacocca, who defined Joseph Grano “one of America’s great business leaders. There’s no one better at leading in a time of crisis.”  

    If you are passionate about economics, if you work in the field, or even if you just want to meet a man of Italian ancestry with a success story to recount, don't miss the reading at the Calandra Institute next October 1.

    Thursday, October 1 (6:00 PM)
    Book reading and reception with Wall Street Businessman Joseph Grano

    John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College/CUNY

    25 W 43rd St, New York, New York, NY 10036