SOMERVILLE (CBS) – The city of Somerville is ditching Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Mayor Joe Curtatone announced Thursday.
Somerville joins Cambridge and other places in New England like Portland, Maine and Durham, New Hampshire by choosing to recognize those who lived in the Americas before European colonization instead of Christopher Columbus.
“Columbus Day is a relic of an outdated and oversimplified version of history,” Curtatone wrote in Facebook post. “We all know there’s more to the story than a nursery rhyme.”
He says Columbus “participated in the early stages of what became a genocide,” leading to “enslavement, torture and dismemberment” of the natives on Hispaniola.
“Observance of that loss and respect for the people who suffered it is not a lot to ask from those of us whose families migrated here in its wake,” Curtatone writes.
Curtatone, an Italian-American, says Columbus “didn’t discover anything” and “Italians have a lot to be proud of without overblowing the cultural importance of Columbus.”
“This issue is a lot like the Confederate flag for southerners,” Curtatone said. “We are proud of our heritage. Yet the specifics of this holiday run so deep into human suffering that we need to shift our pride elsewhere.”
Curtatone made headlines last month when he declared he would never drink Sam Adams beer again. He was protesting Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch, who reportedly dined with President Donald Trump and thanked him for enacting tax cuts.