The Push to Abolish Columbus Day in the United States

More cities are getting on-board a movement to replace Columbus Day which is celebrated on October 9, with Indigenous People’s Day (sound familiar?). Last August, the city of Los Angeles decided to abolish the traditional holiday meant to honour the Italian explorer who opened the Americas to the European colonisers.

The movement aims to focus the holiday to commemorate the memory of Americans who suffered and died during the age of colonialism.

Other cities that have signed on to the movement include San Francisco, Seattle and Denver. The most recent city to abolish Columbus Day is Austin from the state of Texas.

Some members of the Italian-American community expressed their disappointment in the growing popularity of the movement because they believe it is culturally insensitive.

Basil Russo, President of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America, shared the following opinion:

“We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years. Columbus Day is a day we’ve chosen to celebrate who we are. And we are entitled to do just that as they are entitled to celebrate who they are.”

Cliff Matias who is the Cultural Director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council believes Columbus Day should not forget the people who were adversely affected during the time of colonisation.

“The conversation is Columbus. If they are going to celebrate Columbus, we need to celebrate the fact that we survived Columbus.”

It does not seem that the debate on whether Columbus Day should be abolished will go away or find resolution very soon.

A September vote on Columbus Day in Akron, Ohio got so emotionally charged that it became necessary to bring in conflict moderators.

In the same month in New York City, vandals covered the hands of a statue of Columbus in blood red paint then wrote the words “hate will not be tolerated.”

As the wave of nationalism spreads across the globe, expect more movements to take place in a collective effort to find their national identity.

In Australia, a statue of British explorer Captain James Cook was vandalised with the words “No Pride in Genocide” and “Change the Date”. More and more Australians want to change the date and meaning of “Australia Day”.

Instead of celebrating the founding of Australia by 11 convict ships from Great Britain on 1778, nationalists want Australians to come together as a people and decide on their own independence.