Film: Sacco and Vanzetti
This is the compelling story of two Italian immigrants – admitted anarchists – on trial for robbery. The Sacco-Vanzetti case personified the fear Americans had in
immigrants, anarchists, communism, and other political radicals. As these two men were both immigrants and admitted to being anarchists and dodging the drafts,
however, their guilt of the crimes is still debated today.
At the end of your documentary review, connecting the film to course content, please address these questions.
1. How did the case become so important?
2. What was the Red Scare?
3. What is the difference between communism and anarchy?
4. What light does the trial, the appeals, and the protests, shed upon the “Great Red Scare” of 1919-1920?
5. Do you believe that the social tensions of the period prevented Sacco and Vanzetti from getting a fair trial? Why or why not?
6. How did the Sacco and Vanzetti case show that civil rights and liberties may suffer during periods of social unrest?
7. What do you think of Judge Thayer’s statement, “This man, although he may not actually have committed the crime attributed to him, is nevertheless morally
culpable because he is the enemy of our existing institutions”?
8. What role did the First Amendment play in the Sacco and Vanzetti case?
9. What was Vanzetti’s message in his final words?
10. Are there any lessons for us today from this case?
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