U.S. campaign against Columbus Day is growing in many cities, although most Americans aren't sure if they want to replace it with a day honoring Cleveland, Cincinnati or Dayton
Who doesn’t love having Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, off work to enjoy fall weather over a three-day weekend?
Turns out plenty of people feel that way, if it means celebrating an undisputed rapist and murderer.
There’s plenty of evidence that Christopher Columbus, who is credited with “discovering” America, was responsible for the rape and murder of Native Americans, who had been occupying the land for thousands of years, as well as selling some into slavery and spurring the genocide of indigenous people. Documents have showed the undisputed cruelty of Columbus, including that he would chop off the ears and noses of indigenous people on the Bahamas and sold girls as young as 9 and 10 into sex slavery.
“A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand,” Columbus wrote in his log in 1500.
There’s also the minor detail that Columbus wasn’t actually the first European to land in America: Viking Leif Ericson discovered it about 500 years before.
But while Columbus’ actions may have contributed to the country we know today, many have pointed out his actions should not be celebrated — especially on grounds equal to Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln — given his criminal proclivities.
Further, Columbus Day as we know it wasn’t created in the U.S. until the 1930s, when the Knights of Columbus were looking for a Catholic role model and somehow landed on Columbus. Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day as a federal holiday into law in 1934 as a result of the group’s lobbying.
A Rasmussen poll in 2014 found that 45 percent of Americans considered Columbus Day one of the least important holidays. But despite numerous campaigns and petitions calling for Columbus Day to be repealed or at least renamed, it would take an act of Congress to actually change the federal holiday. And it appears no effort has been made to do so, possibly aided by the lack of significant Native American representation in the legislative body.
While the federal government has chosen to ignore criticisms about the holiday, states and cities have chosen differently. Only 23 states and the District of Columbia recognize Columbus Day, and others have chosen to name it something else. South Dakota officially labeled the holiday Native Americans Day in 1990 and Hawaiians unofficially call it Discoverers’ Day. Numerous cities have chosen to name it Indigenous Peoples Day.