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CHICAGO (CBS) — The city’s Columbus Day parade is an annual tradition for Paula DiPaolo. Three generations of Italian Americans were celebrating today: DiPaolo, her daughter and her mother.
“To celebrate the heritage and culture and keep it in the family,” she told CBS 2’s Jim Williams
The parade may carry the name of the Italian explorer–his name may label the holiday–but those here on State Street say it’s much more than exalting one man.
“It’s really about recognizing Italian Americans and how they developed this great country,” said Ron Onesti, of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans.
“It’s honors parents, grandparents — anybody who came to this country,” said Salvatore Camarda, also with the Joint Civic Committee.
But in another part of town today. at Pottawattomie Park, other public officials have a much different view of Christopher Columbus. They want the Columbus Day replaced with Indigenous Peoples Day.
They point to historians who say Columbus committed genocide against Native Americans.
Ald. Maria Hadden said, “We’ve got to recognize the harms that were caused, we got to acknowledge the history.”
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, said: “The tip of the spear of racism, of genocide and rape, that was felt by our indigenous brothers and sisters.”
Views expressed when protestors clashed with police at the Columbus statue in Grant Park last year, which Mayor Lightfoot ordered removed and put in storage — at least temporarily. (One of three statues removed by the city–the one in Arrigo Park–was unveiled temporarily in west suburban Stone Park on Monday.)
The belief that Columbus is a villain is painful for Camarda.
“It is a little bit heartbreaking. I have to say as someone who celebrates Columbus as as long I can remember. This has always been a day to celebrate.”
This was the 69th annual Columbus Day parade. Most years it attracted a who’s who of local politicians. Not this year.”
But Paula DiPaolo insists she and her family will keep coming back.
“I want to keep the Italian tradition strong for the children.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was among the prominent politicians who skipped the parade.
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