What Happened to Columbus Day?

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In recent years, Columbus Day has become a hotly contested holiday. It’s beloved by many traditionalists, but others bemoan its links to colonialism.

Yet Columbus Day was never a simple day.

In fact, the holiday was never meant to celebrate colonial power. Instead, it was a way to shore up a beleaguered population. President Harris established Columbus Day in 1892 to celebrate Italian-Americans, who were suffering from intense persecution.

After World War II ended, Italian-Americans begin to enjoy increased acceptance. And in recent years, national attention has turned to the suffering of others. Historians note that European explorers, like Columbus himself, touched off a disaster for Indigenous people all over the world. So now Columbus shares his day with the people he encountered. Happy Columbus Day! And Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!


Some Books About Italian Americans

Crazy in the kitchen: food, feuds, and forgiveness in an Italian American Family by Louise a Salvo

Italian Americans by Vicky Franchino



DVD: And They Came to Chicago: The Italian-American Legacy

PBS Streaming Video: The Italian Americans

Post Author
Sheri Reda