Many Baltimoreans likely got to stay home from work yesterday in celebration of Columbus Day. City Councilman Brandon Scott and many others who protest the day each year take issue with that – but don’t worry, they don’t necessarily want to take away your day off.
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Scott compared Columbus to Osama bin Laden and said Baltimore must cease celebrating his legacy. “We must teach our children the truth about our history even when its [sic.] dark and correct it when possible,” he wrote.
Scott, who represents a swath of Northeast Baltimore and other neighborhoods in District 2, was referring to the controversial history surrounding famed explorer Christopher Columbus. Columbus is credited with being one of the first European explorers to set foot in and bring trade to North America. But he has also been accused of bring a genocidal invasion of the continent that killed millions of indigenous peoples already living here before his arrival.
A number of cities have already replaced the holiday honoring the explorer with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Berkeley, Calif., started the movement, according to Smithsonian Magazine, though Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Phoenix, all of Vermont and others have made the same change. States with strong native populations have also refused to celebrate the day.
Scott said in his post that he plans to formally introduce legislation at the next City Council meeting to do exactly that. He concluded, “Changing to Indigenous Peoples Day is the historical, moral and American thing to do!”
The decision is likely to upset any defenders of the Italian explorer’s historical legacy here in Baltimore. We’ll keep you posted on any fireworks stemming from Councilman Scott’s proposal in the Council chambers.
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