| Payton North
SPRINGFIELD – Lou Del Bianco’s grandfather, Luigi Del Bianco, may not be a household name – but it should be. Luigi was one of the chief carvers of South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. Today, 78 years after the national monument was completed, Lou, an author and performer from New York, is traveling the country telling the story of his grandfather.
Lou contacted Springfield’s Italian Cultural Center (ICC) to see if the ICC would be interested in his presentation, to which, they obliged. Lou will be at the ICC on May 19 at 2 p.m. Director at the ICC Lucille Brindisi explained that they found Lou’s presentation to be relevant, fascinating, and that it met the needs of the Center and its Mission, which focuses on promoting Italian culture, traditions, heritage, and the Italian language.
“I think many Italian Americans in the Springfield area can relate to the immigration story and experience that Mr. Del Bianco talks about,” Brindisi told Reminder Publishing.
Lou’s presentation portrays his grandfather’s “unsung” contribution as chief carver. Lou uses authentic photos, timelines and primary source documents to bring Luigi’s story to life.
“The presentation culminates with designer Gutzon Borglum’s praise of Luigi, the 25–year struggle to get him recognized and the CBS Sunday Morning tribute where a plaque at Mount Rushmore is finally unveiled,” the ICC’s description of the presentation reads. In addition, Lou’s book, “Out of Rushmore’s Shadow,” has been published on the subject.
Brindisi explained Lou’s presentation further, “Luigi Del Bianco emigrated to the U.S. from Friuli, Italy and was chosen to work on this project because of his remarkable skill at etching emotions and personality into his carved portraits…Too often what we have learned in school and history books is not completely accurate, information is omitted or biased for any number of reasons. Mr. Del Bianco found that to be the case with his grandfather and did the research to accurately present the facts.”
Brindisi continued to share that she hopes the individuals who attend the presentation will gain valuable knowledge as well as a feel for what life was like for immigrants early in the 20th century.
“I am hoping that people of Italian descent feel a sense of pride in their heritage. I am also hoping many folks bring their children and grandchildren because the presentation is geared toward all ages, promises to be very entertaining, and they will learn about a piece of history that has wrongfully been omitted,” Brindisi added, “We could all learn to appreciate the importance of primary sources and persistence to discover the truth.”
While the Italian Cultural Center has not sponsored an event like this in the past, they decided to expand into this endeavor because “it promises to be so worthwhile,” Brindisi explained.
The presentation will take place at the Italian Cultural Center at 56 Margaret St. in Springfield. The doors open on May 19 at 1:30 p.m., with the lecture starting at 2 p.m. Admission costs $5 for members and $7 for non–members. For more information, visit the ICC’s website http://iccwm.org or call 784–1492.