...the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle was not built to herald the explorer’s subjugation of native people. If it had been, I would be the first to demand that it be torn down.
No, the Columbus Circle statue was erected in 1892 following a massive fundraising campaign by the nation’s Italian-American community in recognition of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the Americas.
Hard-working men, women and families of Italian descent, along with businesses and various institutions with Italian or Italian-American ties, pooled their money to pay for the statue as a way to give something of value back to the city that had given so much to them. They were acting in the spirit of community and with a love of this nation and the dream it represents.
Across the city, there are statues and monuments to great men and great women who have made a significant impact on our world. Yet they cannot be judged fairly using only the standards of our time.
From the Observer:
A group of Italian American and Catholic organizations rolled out a list of 54 elected officials and candidates for office in New York City who want to keep the Christopher Columbus statues in the city.
The 41 groups — which include the Columbus Citizens Foundation, Italian American Museum and the New York State Commission on Social Justice — said their supporters include Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis, independent mayoral candidate Bo Dietl and Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese, a former Brooklyn councilman who is now running on the Reform Party line.