On August 23, 1927, Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed in Charlestown State Prison, Boston, Massachusetts. Sacco and Vanzetti had been convicted and sentenced to death for murdering two people during an armed robbery at a shoe factory seven years earlier.

Thousands of people around the world claimed Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly targeted for their anarchist politics and status as working-class immigrants. Celebrities from Albert Einstein to Dorothy Parker supported a petition to allow Sacco and Vanzetti a new trial. On the day of their execution by electrocution, violent demonstrations blocked city streets from London, England; to Tokyo, Japan; to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Sacco and Vanzetti quickly became symbols for prejudice and the denial of civil liberties. In 1977, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis declared August 23 “Sacco and Vanzetti Memorial Day.” The declaration did not assess guilt or innocence, but stated that the men had been unfairly tried and convicted.

assess
Verb

to evaluate or determine the amount of.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

petition
Verb

to request, often by a form signed by the requestors.

politics
Noun

art and science of public policy.

prejudice
Noun

unfair feeling for or against someone or something without basis in reason.

robbery
Noun

illegal taking of another person's or organization's property.