NYC Public Advocate's Statement On The Observance Of Italian Heritage Day And Indigenous Peoples' Day

October 10th, 2022

Press Release

"Like many in our city, I do not mark today by celebrating the name or legacy of Christopher Columbus. In changing the holiday's name, we do not alter the history of this country and continent – only how we choose to elevate and honor it. In this and all cases, it is critical to look at the stories we tell of our history in their full truth – and do our best to stand now with the oppressed, rather than the oppressor. Changing a holiday’s name will not undo the harm inflicted on Indigenous communities, but it begins a reckoning with it. It stands at least as a statement of our intention to learn from, rather than repeat, past mistakes.

"Italian heritage is not seen in a singular historical figure, but in the culture carried and celebrated by millions today. In celebrating Italian heritage, we must also tangibly support Italian American communities that have helped shape our city. Likewise, in honoring Indigenous People's Day, we must not only undo the harm of centuries but end the ongoing systemic oppression Indigenous communities face as we confront the parts of our own history that initiated it. 

"In truth, each of these commemorations should be marked with their own occasion rather than combined, but today’s observances represent at least some progress. These holidays are an opportunity for reflection, engagement, dialogue, and action as we continue the work to promote the values we should champion while recognizing and rejecting the injustices of the past and present."

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