Indigenous Peoples Day to replace Christopher Columbus Day at Chicago Public Schools

State News

CHICAGO (WGN) — Chicago Public Schools will no longer observe Columbus Day.

The Board of Education voted to change the name to Indigenous Peoples Day as other cities and school districts have done. The board’s vote on the issue was 5-2.

The school holiday will be on Oct. 12 this year.

CPS is working to develop new curriculum to more accurately tell the history of Native American cultures.

The holiday has been controversial because the day has been used to commemorate Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who claimed to have discovered the region now known as the Americas in 1492. The area was already populated by indigenous people and some have argued that Columbus’ actions led to their genocide.

Those opposed to renaming the holiday argue that the day is meant for celebrating Italian heritage and historical contributions.

The president of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, Sergio Giangrande, said CPS’s decision was “a slap in the face of the more than 500-thousand Italian Americans in Chicago, and the 135-million Italians worldwide.”

Cities and states across the country have already replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

In 2017, a man was arrested after he vandalized the Christopher Columbus statue in the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood.

Giangrande said the organization is challenging CPS’s decision and has started a campaign to reverse the renaming of the day.

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