NEW YORK - Gathering at Columbus Circle, Italian-Americans demanded Columbus Day be restored as a holiday on the New York City public schools calendar.
"Mayor de Blasio and his education department violated the civil rights of tens of thousands Italian-American students in NYC," says Angelo Vivolo, the Chairman of the Board Columbus Citizens Foundation.
The rally comes a week after the 2021-2022 NYC schools calendar was released and Columbus Day was changed to Indigenous People’s Day.
Mayor de Blasio claimed he had no idea about the change.
"This process was not handled right. I certainly did not hear about the change nor did the chancellor," said Mayor de Blasio.
Hours later, the day was changed once again, this time to Italian Heritage/Indigenous People’s Day.
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Chancellor Porter stated the day is meant to celebrate the contributions of both communities. The move was met with backlash from both sides.
The Redhawk Native American Arts Council argues that Columbus Day should stay off the calendar.
"Columbus is not someone who should be honored. We are not saying that Italian-Americans don’t have a right to have their own day, but the simple fact that it would be same day as Indigenous People’s Day is still an instrumental part of the near genocide of Native people in the Caribbean," says Cliff Matias from the Redhawk Native American Arts Council.
Wednesday afternoon the NYC schools released a statement:
"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. By including these holidays on our calendar we are honoring the past, present, and future contributions of Indigenous communities and Italian Americans."