Columbus in a portrait by Ghirlandaio. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution — Public Domain/Wikicommons.

On behalf of the Federated Italo-Americans, I want to thank you all for trying to preserve the second Monday in October as a celebration of Columbus Day, a day that many of us Italian-Americans observe to celebrate our heritage. Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer and navigator responsible for the discovery of the New World, marked the beginning of European colonization of the Americas, thereby mapping the path forward for Amerigo Vespucci, and eventually, our immigration to the United States.

Councilman Joe Buscaino proposed, along with members of the Italian-American community, to establish an Indigenous Peoples Day city holiday on August 9th, which was established in 1994 by the United Nations as a day to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. Today this suggestion was voted down by the Los Angeles City Council. Instead, the Council voted (14-1) to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day as the official city holiday and designated October 12th as a day to celebrate Italian American Heritage Day in LA.

In the face of such a defeat, I have been searching for my silvery lining….

Although the replacement of Columbus Day in LA is considered a loss to us in the Italian American community, can it also be considered a victory, since a democratic government established by our Founding Fathers is what we all inherently celebrate as Americans? Today may not have resulted in the vote many of us personally wanted, BUT today’s outcome was actually decided by “democracy”, the people’s vote, therefore symbolizing what we ultimately are as “America” and securing the legacy of Christopher Columbus. 

This October we will celebrate Italian American Heritage Month in LA with October 12th being the official day of recognition by City Council.  Even though the day may not be an “official” city holiday, we can still celebrate Columbus and his contributions to our culture within our community ~ there are already celebrations being planned the first (LA) and second (OC) weekend of October! I will send along more info as it is received.

Thank you again,

Ann Potenza
Federated Italo-Americans
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