Story at a glance:
- New York City is renaming Columbus Day.
- The day will now honor Indigenous people and Italian heritage.
- The decision has sparked controversy, with two Democratic state senators saying they are disappointed.
The New York City Department of Education (DOE) announced Tuesday that Columbus Day will now be renamed to Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day and will honor “the past, present, and future contributions of Indigenous communities and Italian Americans,” the Gothamist reports.
The education board initially only referred to the day as Indigenous People’s Day, to which critics said dishonored and erased the contributions of Italian Americans. The day is now updated to include Italian heritage.
“Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day will celebrate the contributions and legacies of Italian Americans and recognize that Native people are the first inhabitants of the land that became our country,” DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson said.
Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day is on Oct. 11.
“City Hall wants Italian Heritage Day and Indigenous People’s Day so no one is left out,” Press Secretary Bill Neidhardt of Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The decision to cancel — which has been renamed instead — Columbus Day has angered the Italian community in New York City, which represents 20 percent of the city, according to the Columbus Heritage Coalition.
Out of the 2 million Native Americans in the U.S., about 46,000 or .02 percent live in New York State, specifically in towns like Salamanca, Massena, Saranac Lake, East Rochester, Warwick, Niagara Falls and Ogdensburg, according to Home Snacks.
Moreover, city officials like Councilman Mark Treyger (D), Rep. Tom Suozzi (D), Assembly Education Committee Chairman Michael Benedetto (D), Councilman Robert Holden (D), all of whom are Italian, were not notified and had no voice in the matter.
“[It’s] a slap in the face,” Holden told The Post.
Democratic state senators Diane Savino and Joe Addabbo also voiced their disappointment in a statement in the DOE’s decision.
“Their insensitive decision to eliminate Columbus Day, which is a legal, Federal holiday from their calendar and substitute it with Indigenous People's (D)ay does a terrible disservice to a difficult and complex conversation,” the senators said. “In one block-headed decision, they have harmed both communities and fanned the flames of division."
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