By: ISDA Staff
Wednesday, Sept. 23 will prove to be a pivotal moment in Pittsburgh’s history, as the city’s Art Commission will decide the fate of the 50-foot Christopher Columbus monument, which has overlooked Oakland since 1958.
Click here and vote “NO ACTION” to make your voice heard, before it’s too late.
The Schenley Park statue, sculpted by Italian-born Pittsburgh resident Frank Vittor, is a symbol of acceptance of Italian Americans into the fabric of the United States.
Columbus Day has become synonymous with Italian Heritage Day, the time when we remember the sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents, and the contributions Italian Americans have made in the U.S.
The time-honored Columbus Day parades began in the late 1800s as Italian immigrants attempted to create a sense of self-esteem and dignity during a period where they were subjected to lynchings, bigotry and prejudice throughout the country.
Columbus’s journey launched 500 years of immigration to America, attracting peoples from throughout the world seeking a better life for their families — this is the spirit we champion and are fighting to preserve, and this is what the Columbus statues stand for.
The Italian-American community has always supported the designation of an Indigenous Peoples Day as it is most rightly and most justly deserved. We respectfully suggest the day after Thanksgiving, or August 9th (the day the United Nations has designated as Indigenous Peoples Day throughout the world) to be considered as alternate options.
What we don’t support is the political agenda or criminal acts of those who want to rewrite history, and in the process, diminish our traditions by targeting the 15th century explorer.
ISDA Vice President John M. Viola wrote this op-ed in The New York Times, which reads in part:
“…Respect for historical monuments should not signify blind acceptance of the values and judgments of past societies; rather, they should be instructive tools in our quest to understand our history and use it to better meet the challenges of the present. If we allow uncontrolled tearing down of memorials or unilateral reinterpretation of American history, then we will be damaging our democracy by limiting vigorous debate on our history, with all its beauty and blemishes. In his first inaugural address at the onset of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to allow a national dialogue led by the “better angels of our nature.” I think his counsel remains as wise and essential today as it was then…”
A message (and a pressing question) from our National President, Basil Russo:
“To Italian Americans, the Columbus statue is a symbol of hope and acceptance, a symbol of cultural pride and a symbol of the contribution of all immigrants to Pittsburgh’s rich history. So understanding that, how do you explain rejecting one group’s symbol of hope, acceptance and pride simply to appease the demands of another group?”
(Photo credit: Piotrus)