The Anti Bias Committee of UNICO National and the One Voice Coalition Score Again
In 2013, the Mercer County Italian American Festival Committee donated and erected a statute of Christopher Columbus on the site of their building in Hamilton Township, a municipality comprised OF 70% Italian Americans. Shortly thereafter, irresponsible vandals defaced the statute by blackening the face. Cavaliere John Scarpati called it a despicable act of discrimination against his fellow citizens of Hamilton. This leader has been relentless in the effort of dedication and the rededication of the statue.
Dr. Manny Alfano, the chair of the Anti Bias Committee as well as the president of the One Voice Coalition chose to actively assist the Mercer County Italian American committee. Unico National and many Unico chapters belong to One Voice whose primary objective is to defend against defamation of Italian Americans on a daily basis.
On Saturday, August 29th, 2015, a bus load of Unicans and One Voice members made their way to Hamilton to witness and participate in the re dedication and unveiling of the statue. The unveiling displayed the face no longer blackened. Unico National President, Ann Walko in her remarks to a very large crowd of supporters said, “This ceremony should send a message that maligning one’s culture is not acceptable.” She was followed by Dr. Alfano who termed the act as a hate crime and stated that” Italian Americans will not tolerate it” Dom Nicastro, Executive Vice President of Unico added” that we must make the media aware of the deplorable issues facing Italian Americans.” Ralph Contini, Unico’s Columbus Day Chairman added some reality to the event by dressing as Christopher Columbus. He also spoke against the act and praised the efforts of the committee. Unico then presented a check for $500 to the Mercer Committee to defray the expenses of the rededication and a beautiful wreath made up of green, white and red carnations.
In attendance were Past National Presidents Paul Alongi, Renato Biribin and Andre Di Mino, Expansion Director Nino Randazzo, Eastern Regional District Governor Robert Tarte, Anthony Bengivenga, Membership and Retention Chair , and members of the following chapters, Belleville, Bloomfield, Brick, Bridgeport, Clark, Kearny, Garfield, Hackensack, Montville, the Plainfields, Union, Westfield and Woodcliff Lake.
Lastly, the crowd was energized by the remarks of President of the State Senate, Senator Steve Sweeney, who shared with all his Italian American heritage and condemned the act of discrimination but praised all who participated in the rededication of the statue.