"Columbus Day" isn’t getting changed to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Glen Rock – not after an overflow group of Italian-Americans turned out in force to convince the Borough Council to vote down the move Wednesday night.
The council nixed the name change by a 7-0 vote, ending what had been weeks of turmoil that opponents said was roiled by out-of-town activists.
“We move on with a much better respect and understanding of all sides of the issue, including the significance of this holiday to our Italian-American residents and neighbors that often goes well beyond the man that it is named for,” Mayor Bruce Packers said.
Over the past two years, more than five dozen municipalities nationwide – including the city of Newark – have changed the name of the holiday honoring history’s most famed explorer to one honoring native Americans.
Members of the Italian America One Voice Coalition were having none of that.
Those looking to replace Columbus Day with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” are “working strictly on propaganda, and not on the facts,” said Andre DiMino, the coalition’s executive board member.
DiMino told the council that Columbus is targeted because “he brought Western Civilization values, including Christianity, to the New World.”
Indigenous Peoples already have their own holiday, she noted.
Resident Rebecca Coll, meanwhile, said citizens should “be straightforward about what we are doing and call it ‘Italian Heritage Day.’
“We should not continue to celebrate a man who did terrible things to human beings.”
While disagreeing with her, Packer noted that the issue was discussed because of such concerns.
“We are thankful to all of the residents who attended our meetings and who reached out with their thoughtful points of view,” he said.
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