The Calabria Connection
A Wave of Hope, A century of Achievement
Arriving in a massive, prolonged wave that crested during the first decade of
the 20th century, a total of more than 5 million Italian men, women, and
children eventually immigrated to the United States. These individuals often
sacrificed all they had to make the journey, leaving behind homes, friends, and
families to seek new opportunities.
These newly arriving citizens hailed from all of Italy’s 20 regions, but
primarily from one: Calabria, the economically challenged, rural region often
referred to as the “toe” of Italy. The reason for this predominance was simple
economics: as natives of one of Italy’s least prosperous regions, the Calabrese
had both the least to lose and the most to gain.
For more than 100 years, Italian Americans have by and large lived the American
Dream—in fact, in many ways they have helped to define it. Italian Americans
have assimilated into the broader society, and today have all the opportunities
available to any American.
But not all of the sons and daughters of Calabria are so lucky. While most of
Northern Italy enjoys a robust and international economy, millions of Italian
Americans’ distant relatives still live in Italy’s rugged southern provinces,
where they continue to face economic challenges.