Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 01, 2020 - 8:42 am

Some cities like Dallas and Wichita not celebrating Columbus Day. 

They’re not the first to remove the name of explorer Christopher Columbus from the federal holiday that happens every second Monday of October.

Despite some support for the holiday’s new name, not everyone likes the change. Some view it as a liberal move, while others see a rewriting and misinterpretation of history.

Among the strongest opponents are Italian Americans who take pride in the explorer and celebrate his contributions to world history. This group suffered discrimination, especially during periods of mass immigration from their homeland in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Columbus Day is a great American holiday,” says Andre’ DiMino, communications director for the Italian American One Voice Coalition, a national network of Italian American activists. “They’re listening to false stories, to what they’re attributing to Columbus.” DiMino pointed to August 9, the United Nations-established International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, and to November, which is National American Indian Heritage Month in the United States, and explained that the battle over the day is pitting one ethnicity against another. “Columbus’s voyages over here opened up the New World; it was the start of this part of the world for exploration,” he says. “Columbus Day has become an Italian American holiday. It is observed by over 25 million Americans.”

According to the Library of Congress, the first documented U.S. celebration of Columbus Day was on October 12, 1792, the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s landing. One hundred years later came the first official Columbus Day holiday, thanks to President Benjamin Harrison, who called him “the pioneer of progress and enlightenment.”

Colorado becoming the first state to make October 12 a legal holiday in 1907 and President Franklin Roosevelt declaring it a national holiday in 1934.


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