What to Know
- Controversy has swirled around Christopher Columbus statues and Christopher Columbus Day
- Critics say Columbus murdered and enslaved indigenous people; supporters say he is an Italian icon and history can't be wiped away
- Mayor de Blasio has come under fire for creating a commission to review statues that may be offensive, including a statue in Columbus Circle
Italian-Americans — their spirits undamped despite rain and gray skies — have been celebrating their heritage at the Columbus Day Parade along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
Attendance at the annual parade was sparse on Monday — but the thousands of smiling marchers and musicians gave it their all.
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A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the U.S. Critics of Columbus say he was a ruthless explorer who treated indigenous people abhorrently. Some of his defenders have noted his importance to Italian heritage, while others have decried what they see as overreaching by activists trying to erase history.
Mayor de Blasio, who marched in Monday's parade, says people may debate Columbus' role as a historical figure. But he says the contributions of Italian-Americans are "beyond question."
The Democrat adds that Italians in New York City suffered discrimination for a long time — and their successes should be lauded.
Statues of Columbus have been the target of vandals in recent weeks. A Yonkers man was arrested after a statue was beheaded in that city, and a century-old statue in Central Park was splattered with red paint, the phrases "Hate will not be tolerated" and "#Somethingscoming" scrawled below it.