On Wednesday the Los Angeles City Council voted to eliminate the Columbus Day holiday from the city calendar in a move that sides with activists who believe the Italian
pirate explorer is a symbol of genocide for Native indigenous people.
The Los Angeles Times reports that although Italian-American civic groups objected to the move, the council changed the second Monday in October to Indigenous Peoples Day to “commemorate indigenous, aboriginal and native people.” It will remain a paid holiday for city employees.
Italian Americans voiced their objections to city lawmakers, saying that removing the holiday would erase a part of their heritage. Although some were also in support of Indigenous Peoples Day, they did not want it to come at the expense of Columbus Day, and felt that Indigenous Peoples Day could happen at another time.
The council voted 14-1 to approve the change. The one dissenting vote was Councilman Joe Buscaino, a first-generation Italian American. Buscaino had attempted to have the holiday replaced with a different name that celebrates “all of the diverse cultures in the city.”
Buscaino said, “All of our individual cultures matter,” and asked his colleagues not to “cure one offense with another.”
Buscaino and fellow councilmembers Gil Cedillo, David Ryu and Mitchell Englander proposed moving Indigenous Peoples Day to Aug. 9, the same day when Native peoples are celebrated by the United Nations, but the council rejected that proposal.
The change in the city of Los Angeles happens just after it got rid of a Confederate monument and as the entire country continues to debate the existence of Confederate statues and monuments in public spaces.
As the Times notes, Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore., have all replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
It’s time for everyone else to get with the program.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.