Bill to switch Columbus Day holiday sent sailing

  • In this Aug. 27, 2017 photo, the Christopher Columbus statue stands at Manhattan's Columbus Circle in New York. A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has new momentum but the gesture to recognize victims of European colonialism has also prompted howls of outrage from some Italian Americans, who say eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) Bebeto Matthews

Monitor staff
Published: 2/19/2019 2:49:42 PM

Legislators have put off deciding whether the second Monday in October needs a name change for this session.

A bill that would have renamed Christopher Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day was retained in committee Tuesday, meaning it probably won’t be back this year.

Communities across the country have been wrestling with whether to make the switch in recent years. Advocates for the bill say taking Columbus’s name off the holiday would correct the record on the Italian explorer’s deadly exploits and elevate the history of indigenous people. Opponents have resisted on the grounds that making the change would either erase history or insult the heritage of Italian-Americans.

The efforts came up on the national level this week when presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris said she would support a similar bill at the federal level while campaigning in Portsmouth and talking about social justice measures she would support, according to

Earlier this year, presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren backed local efforts.

At least two communities in the state have already decided for themselves to rename the holiday. Durham is believed to have been the first in the state when its town council voted on the subject in September 2017; a year later, its school district also made the switch.

Hopkinton also made the switch last October in a unanimous 5-0 vote.

“Columbus Day,” named for the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who landed in the Bahamas in 1492 and set off a spate of European colonization of the Americas, has long come under fire.

Historians have said Columbus initiated genocide against natives of Hispaniola, currently the site of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In recent years, activists have accused the U.S. holiday of glorifying Columbus’s atrocities and ignoring the accomplishments of the Native Americans that preceded him.

History has not been kind to effort to make change at the State House level; a similar bill ultimately died last fall in a 12-1 vote in the same c  ommittee it was retained  in Tuesday afer it was also retained from the spring session.

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