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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Italian immigration patterns to Louisiana and Tampa, FL have received a good deal of scholarly attention as two separate phenomena, but they are better understood as informing one another in the evolution of southern thought in regard to Italian immigrants. Italians were the second largest non-black minority group behind Mexicans to be lynched, and in understanding the circumstances surrounding those acts of extrajudicial violence, a pattern is apparent. Lynchings of Italians in Louisiana emerged out of fear of the Black Hand (La Mano Nera), and the Mafia, whereas the sole incident of an Italian being lynched in Tampa occurred as a result of a strike, and the larger specter of labor militancy. Lynchings and local newspapers are analyzed to see how perception of Italians changed over the decades and especially how discourse from one state could translate to the other. Furthermore, Italian interaction with black laborers in Louisiana and with Spanish and Cuban immigrants in Tampa become important in understanding how an organized labor movement – or the lack thereof – emerged.

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