Hidden Voices – Italians in the Golden State

"Hidden Voices".  From left: IAMLA executive director Marianna Gatto, Dr. Joanne Ruvoli (UCLA) and Daniel Gardner (UCLA)
A conference on the Making of Southern California to homage Italy and its birthday anniversary. Yes, because in the process of becoming what California is today, a lot was done by Italians.
Immigrants who left their country for necessity or for desire to start a new life, finding themselves in a new and different environment, often facing hard living conditions and discrimination. Those same people though, became a resource for this land, which benefited from their skills and their strength to become one of the richest states in the U.S.
On June 1st, right before the official celebrations for Italy’s Republic Day, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA), gathered history lovers in the historic district of El Pueblo, in downtown Los Angeles; here, scholars and lovers of the Italian culture alternated on stage to discuss the many way our people contributed to the making of America, from the judge responsible for banning the Ku Klux Klan in California, to the merchants who introduced bell peppers, eggplant, broccoli, artichokes and many other crops to the state, from the entertainment industry to finance.
Hidden Voices: Italian Americans and the Making of Southern California aimed at raising awareness on the importance our ancestors had in the development of today’s multicultural reality. Discussing the many aspects of their contribution were Dr. Joanne Ruvoli (UCLA), Dr. Kenneth Scambray (University of LaVerne), Daniel Gardner (UCLA) and IAMLA executive director and historian Marianna Gatto.
“Through Hidden Voices the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles shed light on the often hidden history of Italians in the region” explained Gatto. “We were pleased to receive such a positive response from attendees, both Italian and non-Italian alike, who shared with us that by attending the event their eyes had been opened to a chapter of history previously unknown to them. As a result, they gained a more meaningful understanding of the rich pageant of Southern California history and the diversity within the Italian American diaspora.”
Traditional music accompanied the conference: MusicAntica, duo formed by Enzo Fina e Roberto Catalano, performed in the beautiful square of El Pueblo, recreating atmospheres of the old times. Their music is a journey through the oral tradition of Southern Italy which was passed on from generation to generation.
And if Hidden Voices was mainly focused on our ancestors, is always good to remember the importance of the international community in contemporary California. Among the many nationalities that crowd the Golden State, Italians keep being an important resource for science, music, art, cinema, sport. The variety and multiculturalism are the strength and uniqueness of this Country.

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