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kNOw Columbus Day is a grassroots effort to bring awareness to the real history behind Christopher Columbus. We look to reeducate the many people who have come up through the educational system not knowing the real history of America. Through this campaign we hope that the public's new awareness of Christopher Columbus will result in the retraction of Columbus Day.
10/9/17 Recently the demonstrations and movements to remove monuments of confederate leaders and events have been in the spot light. The premise is that there is no place for these icons of in our public spaces. The Taino and native people of the Americas have felt the same way about Columbus Day for many years. Over time, the public has come to realize how much of the Columbus story has been romanticized to hide the genocidal atrocities and make the story of America's "discovery" palatable. Knowing this, people have started to question why the USA has a federal holiday to honor a conqueror and terrorist leader, especially one who never stepped foot on the continental USA.
Columbus has a long history in the USA in cities such as New York dating back to 1792 as an icon to celebrate Italian culture. In 1892, President Harrison issued a proclamation honoring Columbus to celebrate 400 years of colonization in the Americas. Later, in 1937, President Roosevelt established the federal holiday as a political pandering move to gain favor from the Italian community and Knights of Columbus. All this in spite of Columbus' birth place not being part of Italy when he was born and his conquests being done in the name of Spain.
As part of the Repeal Columbus Day movement, communities have petitioned their local municipalities and institutions to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. While the initial sentiment behind this lobbying is understandable, it inadvertently misses the adversarial relationship is creates between the tribal and the Italian-American communities. Italians have celebrated their contributions to America’s history on this day since its inception. The attempts to replace this day with one that does not recognize the positive contributions of the Italian community comes across as an attack on their place and history within the USA.
Within the Italian-American community there are those with better understanding of Columbus' legacy acknowledging that he is not the best representative or icon to celebrate their culture. Even within local chapters of the Knight of Columbus there has been questioning of how their namesake reflects upon their institution. Instead of seeking out these partnerships to develop a consortium to repeal Columbus Day, the holiday appropriators have created adversaries that are now more steadfast to preserving Columbus Day.
It is promising to see municipalities willing to evaluate this holiday within their communities. However, they often choose to just add Indigenous Peoples Day and not address the legacy of Columbus. These are gestures of appeasement and do nothing to alter the honoring of Columbus on the federal level or pressure the Vatican to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery which was used to justify these acts of genocide. These items continue to perpetuate and justify the colonialist agenda and oppression of indigenous people. Indigenous Peoples Day only gives these institutions reason to think they have done something while not really addressing issues affecting indigenous people.
My hope is that the tribal and Italian communities can come together to stop honoring Columbus, eliminate a needless federal holiday and declare instead an Italian-American Heritage Day to recognize their unique history as well as their contributions within US history