Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti Resonates Today

One quote from Vanzetti on on a red envelope with black paper as the background. (Photo by Sherry Mazzocchi via Manhattan Times)

Part of the exhibit: A quote from Vanzetti on on a red envelope with black paper as the background. (Photo by Sherry Mazzocchi via Manhattan Times)

Inwood artist Marc Shanker wants to keep alive the story of the plight of Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, both of whom were executed by electric chair following a dubious trial, fewer than 20 years after they came to the U.S. in 1908.

Nearly nine decades later, a local bookstore in Washington Heights will showcase Shanker’s exhibit in honor of the two men, along with accompanying events, reports Manhattan Times’ Sherry Mazzocchi:

Marc Shanker commemorates the two doomed men with an exhibit, “Remembering Sacco and Vanzetti,” which is now on view at Word Up Community Book Shop. On Sun., Aug. 24th, a day after the 87th anniversary of their execution, the bookstore will host a free special event with music, readings and discussions.


Shanker took passages from letters the men wrote during their long prison stay and placed them on red envelopes mounted on black paper. The colors represent the flag of anarchists, a group to which both Sacco and Vanzetti belonged.

Mazzocchi goes on to summarize the shoddy trial endured by the two:

In 1920, Vanzetti and Sacco were arrested and tried for armed robbery and for the murder of two men at a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts. The prosecution had no reliable witnesses. They misquoted the interrogation transcripts to the jury and never submitted the correct copies into evidence. There were also disturbing indications of tampered ballistics. Nonetheless, the men were convicted. The two were sent to the electric chair on Aug. 23, 1927.

In her full article, Mazzocchi writes about the anti-immigrant atmosphere, anarchy and what happened on the 50th anniversary of their execution. She also touches on Shanker’s own roots, as well as how he came to know about Sacco and Vanzetti and the letter that became the inspiration for the exhibit. Continue reading at Manhattan Times.

Visit Word Up Community Bookshop for more details on the exhibit.

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