CHICAGO — The 70th annual Columbus Day parade brought with it support and opposition Monday as local groups jostled for position on the still unresolved issue of what to do with the city’s Columbus statues.
In Little Italy, Christopher Columbus is viewed in a positive light, a source of pride for Italian Americans in Chicago.
Elsewhere though, critics of Columbus point toward the enslavement and genocide of Native American peoples kicked off by his 1492 expedition as a reason to rename the holiday ‘Indigenous Peoples Day‘ and permanently keep the statues away from the public eye.
Amidst the debate of whether or not to keep the statues, 38th Ward Alderman Nicolas Sposato is still hopeful an agreement can be brokered with city hall to display the statues.
“You know, I got a commitment from the mayor about it,” Sposato said. “But she’s concerned about the safety of people and mainly our police officers, as am I.”
Sposato’s counterpart in the 49th Ward, Alderwoman Maria Hadden, said it is important to acknowledge Columbus’s past and move on from the statues.
“Truth and acknowledgement are critical to building understanding and mutual respect across all cultures, traditions and heritages,” Hadden said. “We are here for one reason and one reason only, and that is to continue to move forward for healing, recognition and for acknowledgement.”