State leaders push for end to Columbus Day in Illinois

Monday was Columbus Day, which is a day of celebration for Italian Americans.

But could this be the last year it’s an official Illinois holiday? That’s the goal of a group of state lawmakers who announced plans to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day beginning next year.

After a summer of protest and racial reckoning, a group of political leaders say it’s time for Columbus Day to set sail into history.

“Today must be the last day our state recognizes Columbus Day as a state holiday,” said State Rep. Delia Ramirez.

She joined other political leaders on Zoom to announce plans to re-submit a bill to the state legislature this spring that will replace Columbus Day with indigenous Peoples’ Day on the state’s official calendar.

“We must start by removing symbols, images, holidays that uphold the murder of other people,” said State Rep. Carol Ammons.

At the same time, hundreds of Italian Americans celebrated a Columbus Day mass in Stone Park. They defend Christopher Columbus as an Italian American hero and say indigenous people should be celebrated as well.

“The indigenous people want to have a holiday, they can do it on a separate day. But there’s no reason to take our holiday away,” said Frank Concaldi.

“Well if they’re going to replace Columbus Day, they should replace it with another Italian American, a symbol of the Italian American immigrants that came to this country,” added Mark Farina.

That same bill ending the Columbus Day holiday was first introduced this past spring, but went nowhere when the legislative session ended early due to COVID.