WXXI AM News

Is Columbus Day outdated? Local organizations discuss merits

Oct 9, 2017

Credit freeimages.com/Andrea De Stefani

Columbus Day in recent years has sparked a discussion on whether the holiday should even be called that anymore.

Many cities and a few states across the country have chosen to recognize the holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day instead, honoring the tribes that lived on this land before Christopher Columbus arrived.

Nicole Scott is the co-director for the Native American Future Stewards Program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, she said their mission is to educate people on the parts of the story that weren’t taught in schools.

"There’s a whole genocide aspect to it and in celebrating Columbus you tend to forget all the trauma and the pain, and you forget how all of that is still with us today."

An event at RIT Wednesday will discuss the value of honoring Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

Scott said they wanted the discussion, now in its second year, to be inclusive, so they partnered with the Latino fraternity on campus as well as the Italian organization.

"Our histories, we share that colonization and oppression, and that’s the purpose of our event is to talk about it."

That conversation will be held Wednesday October 11th at noon in the Bamboo Room 2610 at RIT. It is open to the public.

Frank Ciardi is the president of the Italian American Community Center in Rochester and said the move to change the holiday is counterproductive.

"We celebrate our Italian heritage. The fact that an explorer from Italy was able to come to a different area that no one had been before and at some point the Italian American community embraced that."

Ciardi says Columbus Day has became a day about Italian Americans and all the contributions they made so it should continue to be celebrated.

He noted that October is also Italian American month.