Public schools in Chicago will honor Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day

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This Chicago Board of Education has reportedly voted to nix Columbus Day from its public school’s list of holidays in deference to Indigenous People’s Day.  

According to The Chicago Tribune, as a result of the Wednesday vote by the board, public schools in the city will no longer observe Columbus Day on the second Monday of October, which is still federally reserved for the holiday.

Instead, public schools in the Windy City will be joining countless schools in other cities and states across the country that have done away with Columbus Day in favor of holidays that honor indigenous people for their contributions.

The move has already ruffled feathers with some in the Italian American community in Chicago, according to the newspaper, namely the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, which helps put together a Columbus Day parade in the city ever year.

Sergio Giangrande, the president of the group, called the move a “slap in the face of the more than 500,000 Italian Americans in Chicago, and the 135 million Italian Americans worldwide” in a statement to the newspaper.

“For Italian Americans, who endured horrific discrimination and continue to be the subject of stereotypical degradation in popular culture, Christopher Columbus is a symbol for the resilience of a people that have helped shape the cultural landscape of this great nation,” he also said, while adding that the group “has mounted a campaign to reverse this action.”

Nicholas Sposato, a Democratic city councilman who serves as alderman of the city’s 38th Ward, called the moved misguided and said, “It’s time for war,”  according to the paper 

However, one parent backing the decision, Andrea Mitchell, pushed back on some of the criticism the board has received in the wake of the decision in an interview with the paper.

Mitchell, who told the paper her grandparents were Italian immigrants, said she understands “the objection to renaming Columbus Day that are rooted in wanting to celebrate our heritage.”

But she ultimately said there are other Italian icons the city can recognize “without the erasure and decimation of the history and culture of others.”  

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