While Columbus Day is a time for many Italian-Americans to wave their tri-colored native flag with pride, for those coming from the Caribbean or Latin American, Christopher Columbus’s legacy is nothing to celebrate.
Now, School Committeewoman Kelly Garcia is recognizing that in a move to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in the School Calendar – a move she said makes great sense considering the City is a majority-Latinx population whose ancestors likely were not treated well by Columbus and his crew.
“In celebrating our community’s diversity, CPS is committed to teaching and accepting the factual history of Columbus and transforming the second Monday of the month of October as a day to celebrate Indigenous people,” she wrote. “This allows us to make a connection between the painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination, and poverty that Indigenous communities face to this day. Today, we, the community of Chelsea will take a step forward in studying, honoring, and celebrating the people Columbus enslaved and terrorized.”
Garcia said she was expecting to introduce the matter as a resolution at the Thursday, Nov. 14, School Committee meeting. The matter will likely lay on the table and come up for a vote at the December School Committee meeting.
Will it be controversial?
Time will tell.
In other communities, many from the Italian American community have pushed back on such measures as they feel Columbus is a point of pride for their community. The holiday, in large part, was instituted as a way to boost pride and Americanization in the Italian immigrant community during the early 20th Century. Some in heavily Italian American communities still hold that fact dear.
However, Garcia said the problem is that the Columbus narrative is not true.
In her resolution, she said it is important to “set the record straight” for school children when it comes to indigenous cultures that were present and thriving when Columbus arrived in 1492 and in his other expeditions.
“We, the members of the Chelsea School Committee, are to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indigenous people, to preserve Indigenous cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indigenous people,” she wrote. “The Indigenous people of the lands which would later be known as the Americas were not discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. A true and accurate account of the residence and occupation of the Americas by Indigenous people, long before Christopher Columbus sailed, is necessary to set the historical record straight and to respect the culture, language and traditional life ways of our Indigenous ancestors.”
The matter has been filed with the School Committee and is expected to be taken up Thursday, Nov. 14.