Colorado May Not Celebrate Columbus Day After This Year
So, today’s Columbus Day. At least on my part, the first thing that comes to mind about Christopher Columbus (whenever he's mentioned) is that he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. But I also wasn’t a very attentive student when it came to early American history; I can admit to that. I do remember more about the Revolutionary War—but that’s probably just because of ‘Hamilton’ and ‘National Treasure.' I know, and yet they let me graduate from college. Anyway, back to Columbus and the day that’s been named after him: According to The Denver Post, this might be the last time we celebrate Columbus Day in Colorado, instead switching it out for a new holiday next year.
This policy move is coming from State Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, a Democrat from Commerce City who’s currently working to bring forward a bill to repeal Columbus Day and venerate Colorado Day in its stead. If the bill passes, Colorado will be the 8th state to replace the holiday. Some NoCo cities have already done so, including Boulder. The rationale behind the change is that Columbus’ kidnapping, murder and enslavement of North America’s indigenous people make him unworthy of veneration and “not something that we should be celebrating,” Benavidez said.
It’s very possible that there’s enough support to pass her bill, too, in spite of the House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s promise to fight the legislation. Neville claims that removing the holiday is a “waste of time and effort;” though if it is, it’s one that Benavidez has committed to, as this is the second attempt she’s made at revoking the holiday. Last year, Benavidez proposed repealing Columbus Day in favor of Election Day, and it handily passed through House consideration. The bill only hit a roadblock in the Senate, were lawmakers were concerned that a holiday celebrating the election would hurt voter turnout.
However, other state representatives, including Rep. Chris Kennedy, also seem to believe that it’s high time to remove the holiday: “… there’s a growing understanding that this isn’t just some symbolic thing. Columbus Day being celebrated is something that causes trauma from the people descended from the people brutalized by Columbus and others with him.” Kennedy’s not alone in his support of the bill, either, as Sky Roosevelt-Morris, a member of the leadership council for the American-Indian Movement of Colorado, attests.
“It’s long overdue,” Morris commented, along with pledging her support if the bill’s actually introduced. While Benavidez proposed replacing Columbus Day with a state-themed celebration, other states have opted to create an Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 14. But there’s some contention among the Native American community about that route, and whether it has any real value in the face of the nation’s history and relationship with indigenous people.
Regardless, we have yet to see how the newly proposed holiday will fare as it moves through the state government. In the meantime, I’m going to go listen to ‘Hamilton’ again.