Paul Basile

Paul Basile has been the editor of Fra Noi for a quarter of a century. Over that period, he and his dedicated family of staff members and correspondents have transformed a quaint little community newspaper into a gorgeous glossy magazine that is read and admired across the nation. They also maintain a cluster of national and local websites and are helping other major metropolitan areas launch their own versions of Fra Noi.

NIABA elects Sommario president

Recently elected to the presidency of of the National Italian American Bar Association, Frank Sommario dedicated his career to shining a positive light on his heritage and his profession. Justice may be blind, but Chicago attorney Frank Sommario has a clear-eyed view of his duties as an American attorney of Italian descent. “I want to show that Italian Americans continue to contribute to the legal system in a positive way, despite the stereotypes that our community has endured over the decades,” he says. “It makes you work harder because you know you not only represent yourself, your firm and your …

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The best is yet to come

I don’t mean to brag, but I may have the best job on the planet. Let me count the ways. I work with a small but mighty staff that dispatches its duties with professionalism and pride. Our crack team of correspondents are as passionate as they are talented, delivering engaging features on a dizzying array of topics. Our publication is so beloved by our readers that they renew their own subscriptions and give them as gifts at an unparalleled rate. Our fiercely devoted advertisers lend their financial support month in and month out, providing the fuel that drives the magazine …

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Getting to know Sondheim

A political reporter by trade, Paul Salsini parlayed a fascination with one of America’s great musical minds into a long-running newsletter and now a book. Paul Salsini was a journalistic mainstay in Milwaukee for decades, serving as a reporter and editor for The Milwaukee Journal for 37 years and as the Wisconsin correspondent for The New York Times for 15. While his coverage gravitated toward government and politics, he nurtured a longtime fascination with one of the greatest musical writers of all time: Stephen Sondheim. Not satisfied with admiring the maestro’s work from afar, Salsini reached out to him in …

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Uncovering the REAL Columbus

Christopher Columbus is a hard guy to get to know. After all, he lived more than 500 years ago, and much of his story has been told by or through others. In the end, everything depends on who’s doing the telling, what they’ve decided to say or leave out, and why. Much of the debate nowadays is dominated by polar extremes, with vehement detractors embracing an often-false narrative in order to vilify Columbus and passionate apologists frequently downplaying the darker aspects of his legacy to paint a rosier picture. I found myself in the apologists’ camp early on in my …

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Conquest in the 15th century

Conquest and subjugation were the order of the day in the 15th century. Most societies back then were ruled by monarchs who had absolute power over their people, controlling every aspect of their lives and brooking no dissent. Many of those monarchs were intent on extending their dominion to adjacent and distant lands, or on taking back lands previously seized from them. And though methods varied, none were particularly benign. During that fractious century, the French expelled British occupiers from their soil, Spain did the same to the Muslims, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, the Mali Empire was laid …

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Countering the critics

Columbus’ detractors would have us believe that he was a genocidal slave trader who tyrannized natives and settlers alike and stopped at nothing to turn a profit and subjugate the islands. If you read the source material closely, though, all that dissolves into inaccuracy. The worst offenders were Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States,” and James W. Loewen, who penned “Lies My Teacher Told Me.” Playing fast and loose with the truth at almost every turn, they offered no real proof for many of their assertions, often serving up quotes that were taken wildly out …

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Charting a new course

My quest for the truth about Christopher Columbus has led me to more discoveries than I could possibly have imagined. I knew a few things before I embarked, of course: that Columbus set the gold standard for perseverance and courage, that his first voyage was an act of navigational brilliance and that the world was forever changed by it. I also knew the countless misdeeds attributed to him couldn’t all be true. Until I dug much deeper, though, I had no idea how wrong the naysayers were. The Columbus I’ve come to know was a staunch advocate for native rights …

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Onesti builds bridges to other ethnic groups

Girder by girder, Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans President Ron Onesti is strengthening ties with ethnic groups across the Chicago area. On April 20, he represented the community at an international flag presentation during the Chicago Department of Health’s HIV summit. While there, he reached out to a contingent from the Potawatomi tribe (pictured). Four days later, he took part in a rally against anti-Semitism at a Glenview middle school. “There’s strength in numbers,” Onesti says. “The more we show up when other groups need us, the more they’ll show up for us.”  

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Curricular revolutionary Diana Hartmann

An educator of Italian descent, Diana Hartmann is spearheading a drive to introduce Italian-American history into grade and high school curricula across the state. In this era of ever-expanding inclusion, Italian Americans have long been the odd community out. That may soon change in Illinois if Diana Hartmann has anything to do with it. An educational administrator of Italian descent, Hartmann has watched as books about Italian and Italian-American history and culture have disappeared from the shelves of school libraries. Last fall, she took action to reverse the trend. “I wanted to make sure that our contributions and experiences received …

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Distance runner Micaela DeGenero

A state champion runner in high school, Micaela DeGenero lost her way as an undergrad at the University of Michigan before rediscovering her groove as a graduate student at the University of Colorado. Of all the times to seize an NCAA title, this was the most improbable for Micaela DeGenero. DeGenero won the women’s indoor mile race in March after emerging from the back of the pack to obliterate her competition with a time of 4:33.92. The now-24-year-old ran with the University of Colorado, where she was a graduate student working toward a master’s degree in technology, cybersecurity and policy. …

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