FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Italian American Foundation
(Washington, D.C. – January 12, 2018) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is pleased to announce that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers have determined that the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle, New York, will remain in place.
NIAF’s Vice Chair, John F. Calvelli, served on the Mayoral Advisory Commission, and ensured that Italian American voices were heard when debating the proposed removal of the statue. Calvelli emphasized the historic significance of the statue, which was erected just one year after the 1891 lynching of 11 Italian Americans in Louisiana. The statue was paid for and given to the city of New York by Italian immigrants, who collected “literally nickels and dimes” to fund a statue representative of Italian culture and Columbus Day, which the Klu Klux Klan fought against due to the day’s Catholic roots.
“We don’t want the history of the Italian American community and the Catholic community erased either,” Calvelli said.
To continue national, public discourse on the issues surrounding Christopher Columbus, Columbus Day and the Columbus statue, the city will put up new historical markers around Columbus Circle, as well as erect a new monument honoring indigenous people.
NIAF’s core commitment is to education as we provide youth with the opportunity to connect to their culture and heritage. NIAF’s goal is to provide an environment of mutual respect and understanding for discussion of issues and diverse points of view. The preservation of Columbus Circle’s Christopher Columbus statue will promote mutual understanding, civil dialogue and a viable way to address our country’s history.
Today, Italian Americans have a proud history as contributors to our society at all levels of achievement. But we still value those qualities demonstrated by Columbus the explorer such as courage, perseverance and vision—values that served as inspiration for those early immigrants as they made their own perilous journey.
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. To learn more about the Foundation and become a member, please visit www.niaf.org.