Jackie Robinson is no doubt one of the most famous baseball players to ever play the game. While his .311 batting average, 1947 Rookie of the Year award, 1949 AL MVP award, and six world series appearances are impressive enough; it was his ability to overcome the difficulty of being one of the first black players within a segregated America that solidified his spot in history. Now, April 15th is known as “Jackie Robinson Day” within Major League Baseball, and on that day every player wears Robinson’s number, 42. Read more
With the current refugee crisis facing Europe and the United States, there are many people and policymakers who are debating how to ethically deal with all of the refugees. There are currently many different ways in which countries are aiding refugees. In Italy there has been a huge influx of refugees, over 153,000 in 2015 alone according to the online newspaper West. The Italian government is working with the EU to provide aid. According to the European University Institute’s Migration Policy Centre, last March Italy pledged more than 19 million USD to provide aid and humanitarian support to the Syrian refugees in Italy, see Syrian Refugees: Aid and Asylum Map. The United States has been under heavy criticism for being extremely selective in who they will allow to seek asylum. In many cases, EU countries do not have that option. Agence France-Presse correspondent Dave Clark wrote that “U.S. President Barack Obama has promised that the United States will admit 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement over the next 12 months, after criticism that America is not doing enough.” (Business Insider UK). One thing I have found extremely interesting while listening to the debate surrounding current events, is how much the approach to Syrian refugees is similar to how Jewish Displaced Persons (DPs) were dealt with following the Holocaust and World War II. Read more
2010 marked the beginning of what would come to be known as the Arab Spring, a series of both violent and nonviolent protests and movements that took place throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. It’s launching point? The Tunisian Revolution. After 23 long years, the Tunisian people decided to revolt against dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ail, after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi publicly lit himself on fire until death in protest of his government. In January of 2011, Zine El Abidine Ben Ail was ousted from his seat, and a democracy was instituted. Read more
Italian Ghanaian director and activist Fred Kuwornu will come to Villa Sassetti at 6 p.m. on April 21 for the dialogue “Diversity in the Film Industry,” part of the “Race, Racism and Xenophobia in a Global Context” series that NYU Florence is organizing this semester. Kuwornu will present his documentary “Blaxploitalian: 100 Years of Blackness in the Italian Cinema” (2016), which explores the careers of black actors in Italian film. The documentary’s website describes it as “a call-to-action for increased diversity” and more dignified roles for these actors. Read more
Fadi Ghandour, founder of the Ruwwad community center in Jordan, will be on the NYU Florence campus for a dialogue discussing the center as a source of community empowerment at 6 p.m. in Villa Sassetti on April 7. Ruwwad was founded in 2005 for the refugee community of East Amman and has multiple locations in the Middle East, helping different underprivileged communities. The non-profit offers resources such as job training programs and youth scholarships. Read more
Abdel Aziz al-Hamza and Hussam Alissa join Imma Vitelli at Villa Sassetti on April 6 at 6 p.m. for the last of Vitelli’s Craft Talks on Journalism, “Citizen Journalists: Reporting from the Capital of ISIS.” Al-Hamza and Alissa are two of around 17 Syrian activists who helped found Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (R.B.S.S.) in April 2014, an underground citizen journalist group based in Raqqa, a city in northern Syria that has become the capital of ISIS. R.B.S.S. works to document life in Raqqa and has captured evidence of crucifixions, beheadings, sexual abuse and other violent acts. It serves as a source of information for the foreign press who are unable to have reporters on the ground in Raqqa. Read more
The upcoming dialogue on April 18th, The Lost Generation, will discuss the numerous phases of the European welcome of refugees as documented by photographer Alessandro Penso. Penso studied clinical psychology at Rome’s La Sapienza University and photojournalism at the Scuola Romana di Fotografia. His deep dedication to social issues is reflected in his decision to focus on the issue of immigration in the Mediterranean in recent years. Penso’s experience witnessing an attack on a group of migrants in Corinth, Greece when young man, Mostafa, was hit by a car has continued to motivate him to redouble his efforts in raising awareness and combating the issue of injustice at Europe’s margins.
The Middle East Now Festival brings cinema, food, art and music from the Middle East and North Africa to Florence. The seventh annual festival will be held from April 5-10 at Cinema Odeon, Cinema Stensen and other places throughout the city. This year’s theme is “Live and Love Middle East,” and 44 films will be presented. The entire program can be downloaded here.
NYU Liberal Studies Professor Joyce Apsel talks about her latest book, “Introducing Peace Museums,” at 6 p.m. in Villa Sassetti on April 28. The book examines peace museums, “a distinct group of museums whose content and activities focus on cultures and histories of peace, and include antiwar and antiviolence messages.” The introduction explains that while war and military museums are kept running with government funds, peace museums are private institutions that often struggle to keep their doors open. The book raises awareness of the existence of peace museums and explores how they take different approaches to the subject in different parts of the world, including in Japan; Bradford, United Kingdom; and Guernica, Spain.
Misan Sagay is a British screenwriter whose credits include the screenplay for the ABC television movie based up Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry, and the 2013 film Belle. Sagay’s work on Belle won her the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture.
Belle is a period drama inspired by a painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a woman who was born to a slave mother and British naval officer father, and raised by her grand-uncle William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield.
Read a Huffington Post article Sagay wrote about the process of bringing Belle to the screen: http://huff.to/1j0e8Ad
Read a Q&A on the film with Sagay and The Riveter’s Kaylen Ralph: http://bit.ly/1k64vnb