NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The controversy over this year’s Columbus Day Parade in New York City is building, as is the debate over which historical figures should be honored in the United States.
With Christopher Columbus under fire, Italian-Americans are responding.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell spoke with the lead organizers of the parade about how they’re planning to handle the event.
“This year we are expecting the largest turnout for a Columbus Day Parade,” lead organizer Angelo Vivolo said.
There’s talk of changing the name of Columbus Circle and taking down the statue. Those who back the change speak of his mistreatment of Native Americans.
Vivolo says it’s not that simple.
“Columbus came here in 1492, and they want to judge his actions with the standards of 2017,” he said, insisting the parade name will stay the same.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has named a Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers to offer opinions on issues surrounding public art, monuments and markers on city-owned property. The group will help decide the fate of the statue in Columbus Circle.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he doesn’t think the statue should come down.
“The statue is really not about Columbus; it’s about the Italian-American heritage, and I think that deserves to be celebrated,” Cuomo told reporters at the West Indian Day Parade. “I believe the Italian-American heritage should be celebrated as part of the ongoing New York celebration of diversity.”
The governor added: “Nobody is saying that Christopher Columbus did not do bad acts to indigenous people, and I believe the indigenous people, by the way, should be celebrated. But if you want to take that kind of retrospective lens, where do you stop? Thomas Jefferson, George Washington — you know, who is without sin?”
De Blasio has not called for the outright removal of the statue, but is leaving it up to the commission to review the appropriateness of all statues and monuments on city property.
The parade will march down Fifth Avenue on October 9th. For more information, CLICK HERE.