Christopher Columbus belongs to those historical personalities who were treated differently throughout the history. For example, while being commemorated as the greatest discoverer of America, now his name frequently provokes discussions related to racism, greed, colonialism, and violence. Therefore, many people oppose the decision to celebrate Columbus Day.
What Must You Know about Columbus Day?
- Columbus Day has not always been about commemorating the greatness of Columbus. The rumor has it that this day commemorates far more than just America’s discovery but America’s inclusion.
- Americans of the 19th century lived in the constant fear of losing their religious, racial, and overall national identity as new immigrants were constantly arriving to their lands. They spoke different languages, worshipped different gods, and on the whole led different lifestyles. The Protestant majority living on the American land at that time were naturally afraid of such negative impact that could threaten their identity.
- Judging from historical facts, it is not evident that there were no real serious reasons for the American inhabitants to fear the immigrants. All of them (Italians, Irish and others) soon became an integral part of the American culture and lifestyle. However, back in those times, it was much more difficult than now: people were deeply concerned about who should be let in and under what circumstances. If o transform the-then question into the modernity, it would be posed as such: “Who can be regarded an American?”
- It seems that the problem of ethnic and racial minorities has been a burning issue from time immemorial. Even back then, in the 19th century, those immigrants tried to prove that they belonged somewhere and had the right for authenticity.
- The name of Columbus was for the first time invoked by Catholics. They wanted to give him the role of a noble Catholic and a great man who discovered the majestic land of America. Subsequently, they organized special festivities in his honor: named hospitals, fraternities, schools, and other establishments after him. Besides, these Catholics were the first ones to sponsor festivities in commemoration of Columbus.
- Such actions of the Catholics began to bear fruit shortly afterwards. In particular, instead of treating the immigrants unfairly or biasing them, the Republicans began to fight for their votes.
- From that time on, many US presidents supported that Columbus Day should be a federal holiday. Still, taking into consideration the historical background of this holiday, Columbus Day signified that those Irish and Italian immigrants have officially earned their right of becoming regarded as Americans.
Actually, this very page of history is not so widely known for each and every person. Many people commemorating Columbus Day even don’t know what they are actually celebrating. Some people renamed this day, but, nonetheless, its sense remained the same. For instance, in Berkeley, Columbus Day was renamed into Indigenous People’s Day. The meaning it conveys is that anyone can become an American. It is not surprising at all that the demographic and ethnic questions remain burning issues till now. Still, in order to change the world for the better, people should learn from history.