City

What Do You Think: Should Philly Still Celebrate Columbus Day?

Some cities have canceled the holiday. Others have replaced it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. But here in Philly, it’s still all about Christopher Columbus.


Indigenous Peoples Day columbus day

A painting of Christopher Columbus by Sebastiano del Piombo. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Right about this time most years here at Philly Mag, somebody publishes an op-ed about Christopher Columbus, hero explorer to some, mass murderer to others.

In 2014, it was Philadelphia attorney-activist Michael Coard, under the headline “This Is the Monster We Celebrate on Columbus Day.” He went on to write about how “America officially celebrates a man who raped and tortured his way into history.”

In 2017, Philly Mag writer-at-large Ernest Owens opined that “while the Rizzo statue isn’t going anywhere soon, we can still be the first major East Coast city to disavow a figure of oppression” — that figure being Columbus, of course.

And then last year when Columbus, Ohio, announced that it was canceling its celebration of the city’s namesake and honoring veterans instead, I weighed in and called on Philly to do the same. Some of the members of my Italian-American family were none too happy with me.

Well, it’s Monday, October 14, 2019, and the City of Philadelphia is still celebrating Columbus Day. City buildings are closed. Courts aren’t in session. And trash pickup isn’t happening.

I’m not sure if our local legislators are scared of alienating all those Italian-American voters in Philadelphia or if it has anything to do with the fact that people who identify as Native American makes up less than half a percent of Philadelphia’s population.

In any event, the controversy continues to rage around the rest of the country.

The latest trend is for cities and states to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day, honoring the people who were here before Columbus and those whom he murdered and tortured en masse. Just last week, Washington, D.C., became the latest spot in the country to outright replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In other places, such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Dallas, Texas, the peculiar compromise is now to celebrate both Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day, thereby feting the slaughterer alongside the slaughtered.

I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about Columbus Day. There’s no good reason to keep the holiday other than anti-PC sentiment and city employees wanting their day off. A much better idea would be to eliminate any holiday on the second Monday in October and give everybody off for Election Day instead, which would, no doubt, increase voter turnout.

But what do you think? Should Philly still celebrate Columbus Day? Take our poll below.