Chicago Schools Vote to Replace Columbus Day w/ Indigenous People’s Day

‘This is a slap in the face of the more than 500,000 Italian Americans in Chicago, and the 135 million Italian Americans worldwide…’

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A monument to Christopher Columbus in Barcelona, Spain / PHOTO: andryn2006 (CC) via Flickr

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The Chicago Board of Education voted to replace its schools’ traditional celebration of Columbus Day with a new holiday: Indigenous People’s Day.

The city’s schools have celebrated Columbus Day for years, according to the Chicago Tribune, but this year the school board decided to it was no longer culturally appropriate.

Dozens of school districts across the country have made similar decisions, but not everyone in Chicago is pleased with the choice.

“This is a slap in the face of the more than 500,000 Italian Americans in Chicago, and the 135 million Italian Americans worldwide,” said Sergio Giangrande, president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.

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Although he sailed on behalf of the Spanish crown, Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa, in what is modern-day Italy.

Propelled by left-wing historical revisionists such as Howard Zinn, he has faced accusations ranging from exploitation to genocide for his role in the occidental “discovery” of America.

However, Giangrande said Columbus Day wasn’t just a celebration of the famed explorer; it was also a celebration of immigration in general.

His committee has “mounted a campaign to reverse this action,” he said.

“For Italian Americans, who endured horrific discrimination and continue to be the subject of stereotypical degradation in popular culture, Christopher Columbus is a symbol for the resilience of a people that have helped shape the cultural landscape of this great nation,” Giangrande said.

Though no one spoke out against the measure during the Chicago school board’s meeting, two members did vote against it: Lucino Sotelo and Dwayne Truss. The other five members voted for it.

Board member Elizabeth Todd–Breland claimed that Chicago’s public schools have a responsibility to their students to be forward-thinking.

“I believe in the transformative potential of culturally responsive education,” she said during the meeting.

Giangrande, however, said the debate over Columbus’s actions “should not give license to the wholesale removal of a symbol that was a beacon of hope for millions of maligned Italians who helped create the beauty of this country.”