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New York Historical Society

"Italians of New York", 1999

In 1990 in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, the neighborhood I grew up in, a young man was murdered because of his
race. Yusef Hawkins, 16 was responding to an ad for a used car when he was shot and killed while walking
through this largely Italian-American neighborhood. When civil rights marchers walked through the streets in
his honor, they were greeted with a jeering crowd shouting racial epithets. The media had a field day. What
was not covered as thoroughly was the march of the people of St. Dominicks parish who laid a wreath at the site
of Yusef's murder. This painting was displayed at the New York Historical Society in 1999 as part of their
exploration of the issue of race in their "Italians of New York" exhibition.


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