Commission for Social Justice®

About the Commission for Social Justice®

The Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ) is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the biggest and oldest national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States.

  • The CSJ was founded in 1979 to fight the stereotyping of Italian Americans by the entertainment, advertising and media industries. It also collaborates with other groups to ensure that people of all races, religions and cultures are treated with dignity and respect.
  • The CSJ monitors the entertainment, advertising and news industries, contacts offending parties and alerts other Italian American organizations, e-mail networks and concerned individuals to the problem so that they too can take action.
  • Through its Positive Image Program, the CSJ regularly informs the media and general public about Italian American achievements, contributions, history and culture.
  • As part of its Positive Image Program, the CSJ conducts research, produces studies, teaching tools, pamphlets, exhibits and other materials on the achievements and contributions of Italian Americans.
  • The CSJ conducts campaigns at both the community and the national levels that support cultural and social issues of importance to Italian Americans. (Legislation, commemorative stamps, Columbus Day/Heritage Month, etc.)
  • To achieve its objectives, the CSJ engages in community and government relations as well as in grassroots campaigns and fund-raising efforts. However, given its non-profit status, the CSJ cannot offer legal advice or assistance in lawsuits.

CSJ Timeline

1970

OSIA establishes its national Anti-Defamation Committee under Judge P. Vincent Landi, president of the Grand Lodge of New York.

1971

The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania establishes a Commission on Anti-Defamation under its state president, Justice Frank J. Montemuro, Jr.

1978

OSIA renames its national Anti-Defamation Committee “the Institute for Liberty and Justice.” Justice Frank J. Montemuro, Jr. becomes its first chairman.

1980

The Grand Lodge of New York’s Institute for Liberty and Justice is renamed “the Commission for Social Justice®.”

1981

OSIA renames its national Institute for Liberty and Justice to “the Commission for Social Justice®” (CSJ). Justice Frank J. Montemuro, Jr. becomes first CSJ national president. CSJ receives tax-exempt status.

1983

CSJ National co-sponsors national media conference with the National Italian American Foundation in New York City on Italian Americans and the Media.

1984

The CSJ hosts reception in Washington, D.C., for Italian American members of Congress.

1997

Under CSJ National President John Dabbene, the CSJ launches its Positive Image Campaign to research and publish information about Italian American history, achievements and contributions.

2004

OSIA/CSJ co-found the Coalition Against Racial, Religious and Ethnic Stereotyping (CARRES), an alliance of more than 30 Italian American organizations, that marks the first time so many Italian American organizations united to fight stereotyping.

2009

Under the leadership of CSJ National President Anthony Baratta, within six months, the CSJ successfully campaigns to remove three offensive national ad campaigns by Verizon, Denny’s and Miller/Coors Beer.

2010

CSJ officials meet with MTV producers to discuss negative stereotypes in the television show “Jersey Shore.” Thanks to the efforts of National CSJ President Santina Haemmerle, President Emeritus John Dabbene and NY CSJ President Stella Grillo, MTV executives agree to remove Italian imagery from the house.

2011

On September 20, CSJ National urged New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to veto a $420,000 proposed tax credit to the company that produces “Jersey Shore.” Governor Christie responds and vetoes the tax credit.

2013

In February, the Grand Lodge of California and CSJ National successfully lobby California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez to amend his proposed bill that would replace Columbus Day with Native American Day. Assemblyman Hernandez, responding to the request, amends the bill to propose Native American Day as a separate holiday, maintaining the status of Columbus Day in the state of California.