1928
Generoso Pope assumes control of Il Progresso Italo Americano.


Generoso Pope (Papa) (1891-1950) was born in Benevento region of Italy of humble farm folk. At age 16, with limited education and little money, he came to New York City and began to work in construction. Within a few short years he rose to foreman, superintendent and owner of the Colonial Sand and Gravel Company, which became the largest construction material company in the world. The wealth he enjoyed enabled Pope to purchase Il Progresso Italo Americano, at one time boasting of the largest circulation of any Italian American newspaper, and various radio stations that saw him exercise enormous influence in Italian American circles and in the wider political environment.

He was also a figure of some controversy during the 1930s and early 1940s for the stream of pro-Fascist articles in his newspaper and for his warm praise of Italian Premier Benito Mussolini. As international relations deteriorated with Mussolini moving closer to the Hitler camp while the United States closed ranks with the Allies, Pope broke with Mussolini. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and formal war between the United States and Italy, Pope had become a vigorous proponent of the American cause and was in the forefront of raising funds in the Italian American community to support it.

By virtue of his newspaper Il Progresso Italo Americano and two other Italian language newspapers plus his radio stations, Generoso Pope was a major player and power broker in New York Democratic Party politics. For example, he helped start an Italian American organization and the election of Jimmy Walker as mayor in 1925, a move that brought him valued city construction contracts. Through his control of Italian American Democratic clubs, he exercised influence over virtually every Democratic Italian American politician. Pope also used his media to promote the learning of English and the acquisition of citizenship. He was also generous to civic and religious charities and was prominent in Italian ethnic functions. He was a dependable anti-Communist in the post war period and used his influence to urge Italy to vote against Communists in Italian elections. Much of the work he began continued after his death in 1950 through the Pope Foundation, that among other things, fosters research and study of Italian American life is part of the legacy.






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