Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

Pete: The Story of Peter V. Cacchione, New York's First Communist Councilman

Excerpt

NO QUESTION about it -- the two Communist councilmen were arguing. They kept their voices low, too low for the Tammany Democrats on the other side of the aisle to catch the drift of the passionate debate between the two men who hitherto had worked together like blood brothers.

An occasional hoarse whisper reached the straining ears of the Democrats and the various minority members, Republicans, Laborites and Liberals. "I want to answer him," they heard Councilman Benjamin J. Davis of Manhattan say. "Nope, it's my job," came the reply of Councilman Peter V. Cacchione of Brooklyn."It's my duty, not yours."

Somehow the controversy was resolved. The tall, powerful, handsome Davis, the only Black member of the Council, eased back into his seat slowly, reluctantly. Cacchione, a stocky figure in dark blue, his olive- complected face slightly flushed, rose to ask for the floor. He was promptly given it by the presiding officer, who was as mystified as his colleagues at the unique drama they were witnessing in New York's ancient City Council chamber on that chilly afternoon of January 21, 1947.

"Mr. President," Cacchione began. "I want to speak to the question of the Negro History Week resolution submitted by my colleague, Mr. Davis, and address myself especially to the remarks of a previous speaker, Mr. Rager."

The mystery was finally beginning to clear. It seemed that Councilman Edward Rager, a Republican of Manhattan, had attacked Davis' resolution which called on the Council to memorialize the Mayor to make Negro History Week an official city observance. Normally, such a resolution, whether submitted by Davis or his Black predecessor, Councilman Adam Clayton Powell, was unanimously adopted with a minimum of fuss. This time, however, Rager, widely regarded as a . . .

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