Jump directly to the content

That Controversial Columbus

He may not be a hero anymore, but some Americans still get the day off.

For the most part, Christopher Columbus has been honored in America as a hero, plain and simple. Today he is the subject of much debate, some even calling him "father of the Transatlantic slave trade." Here is how the day has been and is today remembered in its brief and now controversial history:

1) President Benjamin Harrison instituted a national Columbus Day to patriotically celebrate the 400th anniversary of America's discovery. But Italian Americans, who suffered discrimination in 1892, used the new holiday to identify with the great explorer and thus to bolster their standing in U.S. society.

2) Colorado, the first state to celebrate the holiday, was the site of intense protests against Columbus Day in 1989. That year, a group of American Indian Movement activists poured fake blood on a statue of Columbus. A few years later, their protests succeeded in thwarting a Columbus Day Parade in Colorado.

3) Alternative names for the most controversial holiday in America include Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley, California, Bartolomé Day (honoring instead Bartolomé de las Casas), Native American Day in South Dakota, and Discovery Day in Hawaii.

4) Although Columbus Day is an official federal holiday, according to Pew Research, only 23 states give their employees a paid day off.

5) The online news outlet The Oatmeal condemned Columbus by saying he "discovered the New World much like a meteorite discovered the dinosaurs." Instead, the comic strip suggested celebrating Bartolomé de las Casas, an adventurer-turned-philanthropist who fought for justice for the natives in the New World.

6) The National Council of Churches encouraged Christians to refrain from celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus's discovery. Their statement said, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation, and genocide for others."

Related Topics:Holidays
Posted:October 14, 2013 at 1:49PM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
So Long New York: American Bible Society Heads to Philly
A year after putting its iconic building on the market, ABS exits the Big Apple after nearly two centuries.
YWAM Missionaries Won’t Be Deported over Visa Issue
With 300 missionaries at risk during sponsorship suspension, organization learned “hard lessons” about record-keeping.
Robert P. George to Saudi Arabia: Whip Me Instead of Raif Badawi
Offering to take 100 lashes each, 7 of 9 USCIRF commissioners 'would rather share in' blogger's punishment than 'watch him being cruelly tortured.'
No Worship Services in Public Schools, New York Mayor Tells Supreme Court
Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of letting churches rent school space. Now he’s asking the Supreme Court to prohibit it.
Christianity Today
That Controversial Columbus