Measure introduced by Congressmen Pascrell and Tiberi which would make October Italian and Italian American Heritage Month
FAIRFIELD, N.J., Aug. 2, 2011 — UNICO National’s Anti-Bias Committee has succeeded in having a Congressional resolution introduced that would permanently make October “Italian and Italian American Heritage Month” across the United States, UNICO National President Christopher DiMattio announced.
The bill, House Resolution 367, is sponsored by Congressman William Pascrell (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Congressman Patrick Tiberi (R-Oh), and has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The action has followed a two-year lobbying effort led by members of UNICO National to introduce the measure.
“We’re almost there, but we need to step up our efforts to get the job done,” said DiMattio. “We are calling on all our members and the public as a whole to lobby their Congressman to take this bill out of committee and pass it.”
The bill urges “the people of the United States to observe October of each year as Italian and Italian American Heritage Month” and would establish the month of October as Italian and Italian American Heritage Month.
“Such efforts would help defuse unjust stereotyping, and make all Americans aware of the enormous contributions Italian Americans make to this country. It would also help educate many about how Italian culture enriches their lives, and make them more aware of the greatness of our civilization and history,” DiMattio said.
A copy of a petition urging the passage of Italian and Italian American Heritage Month is available at this web address: http://www.unicocalendar.org. Supporters are encouraged to print it out, have as many filled out as possible and return them to their Congressional representative. Those wishing to lend their support can also view and use a sample letter of support to be mailed or emailed to their Congressional legislator that is also on the website.
Manny Alfano, the chairman of UNICO’s Anti-Bias Committee and organizer of the effort, urged supporters to email and call their Congressional legislators.
“Remember it’s a numbers game and the constituents will get it done,” Alfano said.
To reach your representative by phone, call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202 224-3121. Say your name and you will be put through to his/her office. Then give your name and say you live in the representative’s District. Say that you want him/her to become a co-sponsor. Supporters are also urged to call Congressman Darrell E. Issa (R-Ca.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and urge him to post the resolution to be voted out of committee as soon as possible for a floor vote. His district office number is 760-599-5000.
UNICO National also led a successful campaign for the designation of October as Italian American Heritage Month in New Jersey in 2009. The measure received bi-partisan support and was signed by former governor Jon Corzine later that year.
Andre’ DiMino, UNICO’s Chief Media Executive and President of the Italian American One Voice Coalition, said it is urgent to have a national resolution passed at the Federal level marking October as Italian American Heritage Month.
“It is painfully apparent that Italian Americans are being subjected to an increasing and accelerating attack of negative stereotyping and denigration through the mass media,” DiMino said. “Now more than ever, we must fight back and put out positive messages of all the great things Italians and Italian Americans have done throughout history for this country.”
Alfano, the founder of the Italian American One Voice Coalition who monitors instances of media bias and stereotyping of Italians through his Alfano Digest that is emailed to thousands, agreed.
“Obtaining the designation of October as our national heritage month allows Italians and Italian Americans to celebrate together and work to promote, protect and preserve their heritage and culture,” Alfano said. “Italian Americans are a vital piece of the fabric of the United States and continue to make sizable contributions to all aspects of our culture.”
While being involved in or sponsoring many different educational and cultural programs each year, including the granting of scholarship funds and different achievement awards, UNICO National also promotes Italian American culture through a heritage calendar celebrating and marking the historical accomplishments and birth dates of noteworthy Italians and Italian Americans.
UNICO National is the nation’s largest Italian American service organization with local chapters throughout the United States. It was founded in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1922. Its volunteer members work to support charitable, educational, and service projects while promoting Italian heritage and combating negative stereotyping.
Those individuals that would like information on UNICO National and membership should call 973-808-0035, or visit the organization’s website at http://www.unico.org.