The battle over Columbus Day in Los Angeles will be fought at the City Council. It has already exposed lingering wounds over race, oppression and national identity.
The council’s Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Committee unanimously endorsed a proposal this week to take Columbus Day off the city calendar and put in its place a new Indigenous Peoples Day, according to The LA Times.
The Unitarian Universalist Association says Indigenous Peoples Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance.
Because of its ties to colonialism, genocide, and the other terrible things Columbus and his crew did to the native he “visited”, many cities around the nation are replacing Columbus Day.
The proposal to change it in L.A., backed by Native American community leaders, would allow the city to acknowledge the contributions of “indigenous, aboriginal and native people” on the second Monday of October, currently a paid holiday for city workers. But it has drawn opposition from Italian American civic groups, who argue that their ancestors have also faced oppression — and turned to Columbus Day as a way to recognize their heritage, reported The Times.
Many supporters of the switch want the tragedies brought on by Columbus to stop being celebrated.
Council President Herb Wesson, who heads the rules committee, eventually realized there was not a solution where both sides would be totally happy. Some want a day to continue to celebrate a slave owner and mass murderer, and some want a day for those that were mass murdered and enslaved, some others support both.