COLUMBUS (WCMH) – President Joe Biden this week became the first president to issue a proclamation for Indigenous People’s Day, a significant step for those hoping to refocus Columbus Day on native people.
In central Ohio, city and county officials have taken steps to distance themselves from Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day.
The city made headlines when it removed a statue of Columbus from in front of city hall. City Council in Columbus passed a resolution last year to observe Indigenous People’s Day. The City of Columbus has also chosen to give employees Veterans Day off instead of Columbus Day.
Franklin County has also dropped Columbus Day and instead observes Juneteenth as a county holiday.
“We need to look in the mirror and face some of the things we’ve not gotten right,” said Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce. “Our message is not to say Italian history is not the kind of history we want to celebrate. It’s one person and we want to change the narrative, to tell the truth.”
Boyce said it’s important to appreciate Italian American culture while recognizing the flaws of Columbus.
“If we’re going to address racism, if we’re going to address systemic poverty and all of the things that have continued to plague our nation, then we need to look in the mirror and face some of the things we’ve not gotten right,” Boyce said.
In a separate proclamation for Columbus Day, Biden honored Italian Americans for their contributions to the country.
The Columbus Italian Club has started an online petition to return the Christopher Columbus statue and to have the city and county observe Columbus Day. The club did not respond to a request for comment.