Historic Colorado State Senate and House votes to repeal racist Columbus Day holiday in its birthplace
American Indian Movement of Colorado
In a historic vote today, the Colorado State Senate joined the State House to repeal the racist, anti-American Indian state holiday honoring Christopher Columbus and his colonial legacy. The bill now goes to Governor Jared Polis for his signature. In 1907, Colorado was the first state to designate Columbus Day an official state holiday. It now joins 28 states in refusing to celebrate the Indian-killing, slave-trader Columbus.
The Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado celebrates the removal of Columbus Day as an anti-Indigenous and anti-Black relic of a discredited, racist past. For decades the holiday officially justified the substitution of fallacy for history in repeating a false narrative about the heroism of Columbus, while ignoring his brutality and crimes against the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.
State holidays should reflect positive values and admirable qualities that accurately promote the history and the future aspirations of the state. Columbus Day failed to meet this standard because it sends perverse, inaccurate and fallacious historical and moral messages to students, other young people, and the general public.
For those who have been inattentive or ignored the campaign to remove Columbus Day since 1989, Colorado AIM reminds them that Columbus:
- Participated in the African slave trade for the Portuguese prior to his voyage in 1492.
- Designed and commenced the transatlantic slave trade, first with Taino Indians from the Caribbean to Europe, and then with African slaves from European and African slave markets, into the islands of the Caribbean.
- Designed, constructed and personally oversaw an administrative system in the Caribbean that justified the invasion of the territories of indigenous peoples, enslaved Taino and other indigenous peoples from children to the elderly, murdered indigenous people by the hundreds of thousands – if not millions, and commenced the systematic physical, cultural, economic and spiritual destruction of indigenous peoples throughout the Caribbean.
- Columbus’ design for the oppression of indigenous peoples was replicated by others throughout the region, into Mexico, Peru, Central America, Florida and the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas.
The repeal of Columbus Day is also not “anti-Italian.” Colorado AIM’s campaign has never been one of “Indians v. Italians,” instead it has been one of “anti-racism v. racism” focusing on how the state of Colorado celebrates its anti-Indian history. Columbus Day will now be replaced with Cabrini Day, the first state holiday in the US to honor a woman, in this case Frances X. Cabrini, a humanitarian who is renowned for her assistance to children orphans and oppressed immigrants – the opposite of Columbus.
Colorado AIM welcomes and celebrates the removal of Columbus Day from the political, legal and cultural landscape of Colorado. We particularly thank the sponsors of this bill, Reps. Adrienne Benavidez and Kyle Mullica and Senators Angela Williams and Chris Hansen. This repeal is long overdue. To Columbus and Columbus Day, we say good riddance.