by Dominic DiFrisco
Forty years ago, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans launched the Dante Award. It was an idea that was born from the frustration and anger of our community as we faced a torrent of lies, slander and innuendo.
I approached our then president, Tony Fornelli, with a proposal to honor a media person who best exemplified Dante’s credo. Tony enthusiastically approved, and as they say, “the rest is history,” on going and exhilarating.
Why Stella Foster? Read her column every Tuesday and Thursday in the Sun- Times. Sure, she tells who ate at Gene and Georgetti, or Phil Stefani’s 437, or Alex Dana’s Rosebud Prime. That’s “gossip,” and we all love it.
Then she turns her pen and heart toward issues that impact and shape the world: urban crime, teenage pregnancy, corporate greed and political corruption. Stella wields the sword of truth without fear of reprisal and ends her assault with a terse, but meaningful “Yeah, I said it” as a challenge to those who fear approaching those sensitive topics.
The festivities were expertly choreographed by Executive Director JoAnn Serpico, with the ever present assistance of our beloved Marie Palello. President
Antonio Romanucci gave a splendid speech in which he thanked the Sun-Times for their generous co-sponsorship and urged the audience to subscribe to the only major newspaper in town that offers strong support for the Italian-American community.
Hopefully, Fischetti Scholarship winner Ian Stratta will make a difference. Stella’s sister Jamie gave a moving and humorous introduction of her sister, much to the delight of a vibrant, receptive audience.
We broke all records for the Dante Award ceremony. Media, social and civic dignitaries and clergy, a shining mosaic of Chicago, came to honor Kup’s protégé.
The JCCIA stands valiant and proud as we prepare to reclaim Columbus Day. Avanti!