Clearing The Air On Columbus Day

Not many students know the background story of Christopher Columbus Day, some don’t even know he never set foot in North America.

It’s fair, we spent our fair share of time sleeping through history too. But lets clear some things up.

In 1892, after a bloody lynching in New Orleans, President Benjamin Harrison proclaimed it as a one-time national celebration.

But the bodies hanging weren’t former slaves, they were Italian immigrants.

In this country every wave of immigrants faces prejudice from the previous wave of immigrants and Italians were no different. And when they moved to the south to do cheap labor the prejudice grew to hate.

After the lynchings, the United States needed a quick way to resolve tensions among Italian-Americans and internationally with Italy.

In sail the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

Christopher Columbus day was a way to legitimize Italians in the American narrative.

So why all the uproar in 2019?

It seems some Americans are waking up to the idea that the Italian explorer was a vicious governor and for most of our elementary understanding of his story, a fraud.

And Florida is one of them, our big peninsula doesn’t recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. Some students at the University are celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead.

Columbus landed on Caribbean islands where he committed atrocities against natives and decimated their populations while also terrorizing Spanish colonists, according to the biography “Columbus” by Laurence Bergreen.

So when you see indigenous people this week on the GC Lawns, stop by to learn a thing or two about their culture.

Don’t let ignorance, assumptions and apathy get in the way of education.

Featured photo by David Wilson on Flickr.