Dante (Dante Alighieri) was a poet, born on May 29, 1265, in Florence, Italy. As a poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher and political thinker, he is most known in literature for his most famous work, The Divine Comedy, one of the essential works of the change from medieval to Renaissance thought, and still one of the most glorified works of literature after 650 years.. It is deduced by one of his books that speaks of him, that his baptismal name is Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri.
According to PBS, Italians originally immigrated to America as refugees from war during the Risorgimento, or Italian Revolution. Many other Italians came later to escape the extreme poverty that caused malnutrition and disease at home. Whatever the reason, Italian Immigration to America in the 1800s led to the establishment of the “Little Italy” quarters in most of the major American cities. New York, enclaves like Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, saw a number of immigrants from the more northern regions such as Milan, Bologna and Florence, while Chicago sections such as Chicago Heights saw more immigrants from the more southern regions such as Naples, the Amalfi Coast and Sicily.
In the Sacramento region, many of these immigrants settled in the motherlode area looking for work in mining. Around the turn of the 20th century Italian Americans began to dominate the farming industry with the production of wine, olive oil, as well as other industries such as masonry, shop keeping, ranching and fishing. East Sacramento became the “Little Italy” Sacramento enclave.
As with so many immigrants to a new country, early on these families were faced with all sorts of hardships, such as, language barriers, social, cultural and economic differences, prejudice, and hostility. Recognizing a need, Father Domenico Taverna, the first pastor of St. Mary’s Church started an organization to help with the transition. A place that could teach English, assist with immigration paperwork, and help find jobs and housing for America’s new residents. Keeping the Italian heritage alive in the minds of the rising Italian American populations was also a forethought. The group soon separated from the church and began its own organization, and The Dante Club was born. In 1926, the club bought its own building at 15th and P Streets, and in 1960, after outgrowing its headquarters of 32 years, moved to its current location on Fair Oaks Blvd. Over the last 90 years, the organization has supported the community at large with numerous contributions to worthy causes.Today, in addition to being the center of Dante Club activities, the venue has become a well-known rental facility hosting numerous events and activities.
In December 2018, The Sacramento Jazz Cooperative contracted with the organization to provide ongoing classic jazz, cabaret and American Standards songbook entertainment several times per month. The idea is to provide jazz, including dinner shows, in a small intimate setting recreating the supper club era of jazz and 1950s pop culture. We think Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri would divinely approve.
To learn more about both these organizations, and to hear more about events we invite you to visit:www.danteclub.com and www.sacramentojazzcoop.org