Columbus: Hero, or Slave Trader?

" ... Though the first recorded celebration of Columbus occurred in New York City 1792, during a 300th anniversary celebration of his landing in the New World, Columbus Day did not become a federal holiday until 1971, courtesy of President Richard M. Nixon. ... "

By Terrence T. McDonald
Montclair Times
October 15, 2008

Though most Montclair students probably used their Columbus Day holiday to rest and relax, a small group of their peers spent the day urging residents to stop celebrating the man revered centuries-long for discovering the New World.

Christopher Columbus is a "slave trader" who committed genocide, the effects of which are still being felt by Native Americans today, according to Isy Abraham-Raveson.

"Columbus does not deserve to be honored," she said. "He was not a good person."

Abraham-Raveson, 15, a Montclair High School student, led approximately a half-dozen students at the intersection of Church Street and Bloomfield Avenue this past Monday as they asked passersby and other area pedestrians to sign their petition decrying Columbus Day.

The petition, which the students will submit to the Township Council, requests that the federal holiday to be renamed in honor of Native Americans. The petition also expresses support for an Italian-American Heritage Day "to celebrate their rich heritage without honoring a murderer."

Abraham-Raveson, an equality button courtesy of gay rights group Human Rights Campaign pinned to her shirt, said she learned at an early age that the land Columbus discovered was already populated by natives. She always knew the famed explorer was "a bad guy," she said.

But last summer, she read "The People’s History of the United States," a revisionist history book by political scientist Howard Zinn. The text confirmed her sentiment that Columbus’ arrival in America spelled doom for the natives who lived here, and spurred her to act, she said.

"I think it’s really sick to honor someone that did so many bad things," she said.

Though the first recorded celebration of Columbus occurred in New York City 1792, during a 300th anniversary celebration of his landing in the New World, Columbus Day did not become a federal holiday until 1971, courtesy of President Richard M. Nixon. ...

FULL STORY

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