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Columbus Day Reevaluated

Columnist

Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010

Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010 01:10

Every school child learns that in "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." What they don't learn is what the people behind the Reconsider Columbus Day movement are trying to help people understand.

 

Many will take the day off to pay tribute to a man who set the stage for genocide and the slave trade here in the United States. But there's a serious push to shed new light on Mr. Columbus. The Reconsider Columbus Day Project is the leading public awareness campaign that is urging people to reconsider the national holiday that recognizes the explorer who "discovered" the Americas.

 

The Reconsider Columbus Day Project recently released a viral video consisting people of color uncovering the "ugly truth that's been ignored for way too long" about the holiday. "Columbus committed heinous crimes against the indigenous people of the Caribbean, millions of natives throughout the Americas, and Columbus set the stage for the slave trade in the New World," the video says. In the end, it's a call to educate the public and acknowledge the ways in which Columbus's painful legacy is still relevant.

 

The project is instead pushing for a national recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day, in honor of the millions decimated after Columbus's arrival.

 

Columbus wasn't motivated by a desire to explore and learn; he was motivated by greed and by the money to be made in the slave trade. His slavery begot more slavery because of the desire for sugar and led to the atrocities of the Middle Passage (taking Africans from their homes forcibly as part of the Atlantic Slave Trade).

 

But who really celebrates Columbus Day? Kids sure do. Remember when we got to create those little hats and read books glorifying the man who discovered the Americas? Many get school and work off, but does anyone actually participate in Columbus Day festivities? I know I sure don't.

 

It's easy to ignore this. It was a long time ago and who doesn't like the day off? The fact of the matter is the day is only respected and supported because it offers a day of rest and many simply don't know the truth. Columbus wasn't even the first person to discover America. Native Americans and even the Vikings were here before Columbus. "Columbus's claim to fame isn't that he got there first," explains historian Martin Dugard, "it's that he stayed."

 

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1971 and he has always been lauded as the discoverer of the New World. And yet, he wasn't. This isn't a liberal, politically correct agenda, just a basic human understanding of what we should not be condoning.

 

You can watch the video at www.reconsidercolumbusday.org. The project is also asking viewers to sign a petition asking Congress for a national holiday for Native Americans.

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