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European civil society activist visits Elon campus

Giovanni Impastato, one of Europe’s foremost grassroots advocates for the rule of law and the struggle against global mafia racketeering, visited Elon’s campus April 18, addressing students and faculty in Johnston Hall. Impastato is touring Triad and Triangle North Carolina communities discussing the globalization of international crime and the need to strengthen civil society and democratic institutions through non-violent political and cultural action. Impastato works closely with the research, culture and policy advocacy institute Centro Siciliano di Documentazione "Giuseppe Impastato" in Palermo Sicily (http://www.centroimpastato.it/), founded by Sicilian historian Umberto Santino and Anna Puglisi.

Impastato is appearing in conjunction with the release of a new documentary film on his late mother, Felicia Bartolotta Impastato, and his late brother, Giuseppe “Peppino” Impastato, “A Beautiful Memory / Un ricordo bellissimo.” Peppino Impastato, a celebrated radio personality and anti-mafia youth activist, was assassinated by the Mafia in May 1978 near Palermo, Italy.  His mother was one of the first Sicilian women to speak out against the mafia and the role of violence in civil and economic life in Sicily. 

Impastato addressed the combined classes of Professors Daniela Orlandi, foreign languages, and Betty Morgan, political science and public administration.  Prior to his comments, Orlandi and Morgan showed the new documentary film, “A Beautiful Memory / Un ricordo bellissimo.”   “Un bellissimo ricordo” examines the life, death and legacy of Giuseppe "Peppino" Impastato (1948-1978) and features inspiring conversations and guided tours of the landscape of Peppino's life by his surviving younger brother, Giovanni Impastato.  The film also includes the last recorded interviews of their passionate, anti-mafia mother, the late Felicia Bartolotta Impastato (1916-2004).

Working through the translation provided by Professor Daniela Orlandi, Impastato said, “Film is a powerful thing.  It can either glamorize the corruption of the family and ‘real family values’ for personal greed, or it can tell the truth about crime and racketeering, as in the Fragola-McMerty documentary.”

Impastato encouraged the students and faculty members to “fight for a world without war and civil violence of any kind and without mafias of any kind, but one at peace in the home, in the polling booth and in the market place.”

The film is a collaboration of writer, film maker and UNC-Greensboro professor, Anthony Fragola, and Elon University’s Jason “J” McMerty, senior video producer in the School of Communications Elon.Docs program www.elon.edu/elondocs .

Presentations of the Fragola–McMerty film and the Musolino–Mebanesville music on campus have been sponsored by Elon’s Phi Beta Kappa Committee, the Center for Public Affairs of the Elon Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the Isabella Cannon Centre for International Studies, the School of Communications, the Italian Studies Program, and the Department of Foreign Languages.

Larry Vellani,
8/28/2008 3:56 PM