'It's Time for War': Big School District Drops Columbus Day

Chicago schools replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2020 4:15 PM CST
'It's Time for War': Big School District Drops Columbus Day
"Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus (born about 1446, died 1506)," by Sebastiano del Piombo.   (Wikimedia Commons)

Chicago schools are dropping Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day, but political and civic leaders have vowed to push back. The Chicago Board of Education voted 5-2 on the move Wednesday to recognize the people already living in America when Christopher Columbus landed in 1492, KMOV reports. "I think it's great, changing the name of the holiday," Chicago charter school teacher Erin Walker tells NBC Chicago. "That's what (the celebration) is really all about." But Sergio Giangrande, who leads a committee on Italian Americans, called it a "slap in the face" to the 500,000-plus Italian Americans living in Chicago.

"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. "It's time for war." But Andrea Mitchell, a parent who supports the change, tells the Chicago Tribune that Italian Americans can celebrate other historic accomplishments that don't involve "the erasure and decimation of the history and culture of others." Mayor Lori Lightfoot and one city alderman are opposed to the change, with Lightfoot telling the Tribune that the two holidays should be celebrated on different days. The board's decision follows similar moves in other school districts and cities. (Read more Columbus Day stories.)

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