A History of Greek-American Radicalism

Greek American Radicals

Greek immigrants were found in America as early as the late 19th century, chasing the American Dream. Many of them managed to make their dreams come true by hard work and sometimes under very tough conditions. A lot of them started from scratch, became successful businessmen and made a fortune.

Many pages have been written about the history of modern Greek migration, especially to the other side of the Atlantic. However, the history of their social struggles is less known.

Louis Tikas, became hero of the labor movement and songs were written for him. He was killed in  the Ludlow Massacre, Colorado, during the mining strike of 1913.

Almost two decades later, in 1930, another Greek-American, worker Steve Katovis, participated in a picket line in New York, where he was murdered by a policeman. His last words according to a written account of his life (also in an article by Steve Frangos in the newspaper National Herald), were: “My comrade, I’m dying. Tell the others to continue the fight, to organize the workers.”

In the general strike of 1934 in San Francisco, social polarization lead to the murder of two workers. One of them was Nikos Kountourakis.  Greek-Americans organized a whole brigade and participated in the Spanish civil war, supporting the Democrats.

Texts, letters, songs, newspapers, photographs, interviews, as well as unique archival material from film recordings of the American labor movement, reconstruct the journey of the immigrant workers through the path of Taxisinidisia, class consciousness, in the language of Greek- Americans.

“The material and the story are not known and are impressive,” said the director of the film, Kostas Vakkas, to AMNA, adding that the audience makes direct comparisons to the past, especially to the Great Recession and Depression.

The non-profit company Apostolis Berdebes, producer of the documentary, Greek-American Radicals-The Untold Story, was created by a group of Greeks who lived for many years in America to commemorate Berdebes, whose presence was really felt in the Diaspora of New York, during the years of the junta, and who died young on September 18, 1979, one day before his 31st birthday.

The documentary will be screened at the 15th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, on March 21 at 17:30 p.m., at the Tonia Marketaki Hall, and on March 22, at 12:30 p.m., at the John Cassavetes Hall.


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