The Italian Americans

About The Series

EPISODE TWO: Becoming American (1914–1930)

Family at grocery store

At the turn of the 20th century, over 4 million Italians immigrate to America to start new lives. Although mistrustful of government institutions, parents send their children to public school to succeed in America.

Leonard Covello is forced to give up his "old world" ways and adapt American mores, including changing his name; Arturo Giovannitti, a new immigrant to America, leads the largest labor strike of 1912, where Italian Americans push for better working conditions and decent wages.

While Italian Americans are forced to worship in the basement of churches controlled by the Irish Archdiocese, they take to the streets to reinforce their beliefs and culture; anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are executed, reinforcing stereotypes that plague Italian Americans today, while prohibition breeds a new kind of criminal who takes a shortcut to success.