Authored by Tess Morrison-Colwell
The untitled photograph of New York politician Vito Marcantonio is part of a larger Vito Marcantonio Collection through the Center of Migration Studies in an effort to preserve the photographs and written works from Marcantonio’s life and political career. The series contains 77 photographs spanning from his birth until 1956. The image was originally published in the book I vote my Conscience, a collection of Marcantonio’s speeches and writings funded by the Vito Marcantonio Memorial Fund. The photographs from this collection were also featured in an exhibit on January 7, 1956 at the Hotel Vanderbilt in New York City to launch the publication of the book.
The above photo was taken on April 16th, 1942 during the dedication of Benjamin Franklin High School in New York City. The photograph was taken by Michael’s Studio, located at 743 8th Avenue in New York. The original photograph was an 8×10 print, Coll. #091, print#3645.
During the pictured speech, Vito Marcantonio acknowledged the importance of the new school for to the surrounding community (Harlem), but also made note of the political climate of the time, particularly WWII, “Just as we, the people of all Harlem, give our brawn and our sweat in the mines, mills, and factories of the country, and our blood and sons on every battlefield for the triumph of our freedoms, so in that same spirit we will defend our school and its democracy. We shall not be swayed from this firm resolve by even the shadow of a threat of Gestapo inquisition that may come from any lawyer agent of the Vichy Government.”
The original black and white photograph can be found in Box 1, Folder 13, Sleeve 14 in the Vito Marcantonio Collection at the Center for Migration Studies located at 27 Carmine Street in New York City.
Marcantonio, V. I vote my conscience: Debates, speeches and writings of Vito Marcantonio, 1935-1950. New York: Vito Marcantonio Memorial, 1956.