South Philly’s anti-Italian Columbus Day graffiti was a hate crime

Oct 13, 2018 2204

BY: Christine M. Flowers

I grew up with family stories.  My maternal great-grandfather, a hard-working immigrant from Abruzzo,  reacted to some now forgotten blow to his honor by hanging himself with his youngest daughter's jump rope in their West Philadelphia basement.  His wife, Philomena, was left to raise eight children, alone. 

She suffered another devastating loss when her 3-year-old son, Freddy, found some matches, set fire to his clothing, and burned to death. My grandfather Michael was the first to be born in this country after his family made the long Atlantic crossing, from Naples. The older sister he would never meet, named Lucy like my own mother, died on the boat from a fever. Another sister, Concetta, died at 16 giving birth to her first child.

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