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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
– The D.C. City Council fast-tracked legislation to change
Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” –
(Washington, D.C. – October 8, 2019) – The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) urges the District of Columbia City Council to reconsider changing Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in the District. The City Council has fast-tracked the legislation and will consider this bill at its meeting this morning, October 8, at 10 a.m.
NIAF’s statement regarding the Christopher Columbus Holiday says, “Despite the advent of Indigenous People’s Day, NIAF is not opposed to the establishment of such a holiday. Native Americans, like Italian Americans, should have the right to celebrate and educate others about their history and culture. We believe that to repeal Columbus Day as a federal holiday, which is celebrated by over 20 million Italian Americans, only to replace it by another holiday celebrated by another ethnic group, would be culturally insensitive.”
“The ongoing debate in communities throughout our country about the celebration of Columbus Day often centers on efforts to recognize the important contribution of Indigenous Peoples to the United States,” said NIAF Chair Gabriel A. Battista. “Instead of pushing aside the contributions of Christopher Columbus and the importance he holds in immigrant, Catholic, and Italian American communities, efforts should be made to find another day or a separate, standalone opportunity to honor Indigenous Peoples.”
“A bill as important as this one, eliminating an historic holiday, should have a full hearing with an opportunity for public discourse,” said NIAF chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison. “This fast-tracked legislation deprives the community from engaging as citizens in an important dialogue, the hallmark of a strong democracy. A vote to eliminate Columbus Day a few days before the holiday is celebrated on Monday, October 14, is dismissive, disruptive and divisive. This is an important decision which deserves thoughtful, not fast tracked, attention.”
NIAF asks all those living in the District of Columbia to contact their Councilmembers (both at the Ward level and At-Large) to voice your opposition to this bill today. Please visit the following link for contact information for your Councilmembers: https://dccouncil.us/councilmembers/.
To read the emergency bill, visit: http://lims.dccouncil.us/Download/42216/B23-0236-Introduction.pdf.
To read NIAF’s complete statement on Columbus Day, visit: https://www.niaf.org/culture/niaf-statement-on-christopher-columbus-holiday/.
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.