Danilo Dolci – Italy (1924 – 1997)

Danilo Dolci (Sesana, June 28, 1924 – Partinico, PA, December 30, 1997) was a social activist, sociologist, popular educator and poet. He is best known for his opposition against poverty, social exclusion and the Mafia on Sicily and is considered to be one of the protagonists of the non-violence movement in Italy. He became known as the “Gandhi of Sicily” … Antimafia: Dolci became aware of the stranglehold of the Mafia upon the poor in Sicily. He did not attack the Mafia at first but he did come up against them at once challenging their monopoly of water supply with the project of the Iato River dam. Later he became too well-known in Italy and abroad to be dealt with without too much adverse publicity. He began his crusade against the Mafia by claiming that government officials were receiving help in their elections from Cosa Nostra. Rather than making his accusations only in Sicily, he would travel to Rome to participate before the Antimafia Commission to ensure that his worries about the Mafia in Sicily were heard. His willingness to stand up to the Mafia in his quest to improve the living conditions of Sicilians helped him to gain the confidence of the locals … Legacy: Dolci has been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize, denounced by the Cardinal Archbishop of Palermo; he has won the support of many Communists and some Jesuits, been threatened by the Mafia, and been prosecuted for obscenity by the Italian government for his book Inchiesta a Palermo (Report from Palermo). Dolci was a great writer. His books are remarkable accounts of the society he surveys, and their accuracy and insight have helped to give a realistic basis to any schemes for improvement. Above all he has given a voice to the abandoned, forgotten, despairing, nameless, suffering people of Sicily. Unforgettably he enabled peasants and fishermen, mothers and prostitutes, street urchins, outlaws and bandits, police and mafiosi to tell their stories … (full long text).

The Obituary for Danilo Dolci, by Andrew Gumbel, Jan 1, 1998.

Danilo Dolci, Vivid Voice Of Sicily’s Poor, Dies at 73, by JOHN TAGLIABUE, December 31, 1997.


Danilo Dolci – Italy (1924 – 1997)

Danilo Dolci by Jaclyn Welch; by Frank Walker; by Vincenzo Salerno.

He said: “I had never heard the phrase ‘conscientious objector’, … and I had no idea there were such persons in the world, but I felt strongly that it was wrong to kill people and I was determined never to do so” … (full text).

The website Danilo Dolci.com.

The video: Danilo Dolci, 5.00 min, added March 25, 2008.

He said also: “It is senseless to speak of optimism or pessimism. The only important thing to remember is that if one works well in a potato field, the potatoes will grow. If one works well among people, they will grow. That’s reality. The rest is smoke” … (Ohio Citizen.org).

Hutchinson encyclopedia article about Dolci, Danilo.

Sanctity is hard to explain—even when it is present. Saints have often been impossible people who undertook impossible tasks and succeeded in highly improbable ways. Such a one is Danilo Dolci, a 41-year-old Italian who for 14 years has headed a volunteer movement designed to lift a few Sicilian villages out of a squalor unmatched in Europe and to raise the inhabitants from the torpor of despair. Dolci (TIME, April 9, 1956) has been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize, denounced by the Cardinal Archbishop of Palermo; he has won the support of many Communists and some Jesuits, been threatened by the Mafia, and been prosecuted for obscenity by the Italian government for his book Report from Palermo … (full text, April 08, 1966 ).

Dolci and the Mafia, May 12, 1977.

To Italian government officials, Danilo Dolci’s methods for helping the poor of Sicily have always been embarrassingly direct. Sicilians were hungry, so Social Worker Dolci became a hunger striker. When they were sick, he converted a three-room apartment into a clinic. To give jobs to jobless fishermen and farm hands, Dolci set them to work on one of the island’s tattered roads in the hope that the government would pay them later; he was arrested and convicted of “invading government ground” (TIME, April 9, 1956). Most recently, in his crusade for decent housing, 33-year-old Danilo Dolci outraged official sensibilities with a book depicting the miseries of Palermo’s slum dwellers. (full text, Jan. 13, 1958).

Nessuno ha mai regalato una canzone a una vittima di mafia
, Noi l’abbiamo fatto, 22 Luglio 2008.

Danilo Dolci is a Christian with deceptively simple ideas about living his faith. Last winter, noticing the bad condition of the roads near the town of Partinico and the great numbers of unemployed in the town itself Dolci decided to kill two bad birds with one stone. He gathered together some 200 of the unemployed fishermen and farmhands and went to work on the roads. They would work without pay, he said, in the hope that the government would later reward them. When cops objected to this unauthorized labor, Danilo Dolci refused to stop and was clapped into jail. Last week his trial was the biggest news story in Italy … (full text, April 09, 1956).

Find him and his publications on amazon; on Swarthmore College; on wikipedia/Books in English; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Blog-search.


Maniàci dell’informazione, di Roberto Puglisi;

My talk with Senator Patty Murray, Sept. 14, 2007.

Comments are closed.