Italian Americans push back against proposal to end Columbus Day in New York state

Democratic Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, who is Indigenous, formally introduced legislation at the end of September to end the holiday in New York state and replace it with Indigenous People's Day.

News 12 Staff

Oct 6, 2022, 9:59 PM

Updated 597 days ago

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Some Italian Americans are outraged about attempts to abolish Columbus Day in New York state.
Congressional candidate Mike Lawler says woke progressive leftists are trying to erase Italian heritage from history.
"What many Americans view Columbus Day as is a recognition of Italian heritage and the contributions of Italian Americans to the United States of America and to New York state. We can celebrate Indigenous People's Day. It should be a different day," Lawler said Thursday.
Democratic Assembly Member Marcela Mitaynes, who is Indigenous, formally introduced legislation at the end of September to end the holiday in New York state and replace it with Indigenous People's Day.
For Indigenous people, Christopher Columbus is a symbol of slavery and genocide of their people.
"The reason that we celebrate Indigenous People's Day is to say if you're going to honor this murderer, criminal, perpetrator of slavery, then we are going to celebrate on that day our survival," said Cliff Matais, of the Red Hawk Indigenous Arts Council.
But Lawler, with support from the Sons of Italy of Blauvelt, said pitting two ethnic groups against each other is not the way to get things done.
Gov. Kathy Hochul as well as Republican gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin have both announced their opposition to the holiday change. Hochul is expected to march alongside the Italian community at this year's Columbus Day parade.
"We can recognize Indigenous people and the impact, negative impact that may have occurred years ago during our founding. No one's saying, 'Don't do that,' but it doesn't mean that you have to denigrate an entire other community in the process," Lawler said.
Thirteen states officially no longer celebrate Columbus Day.


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