In 1929, Italian American publisher Generoso Pope organized the first parade in New York City to honor the great Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus.
From those early days, millions of proud marchers have celebrated the explorer’s accomplishments and Italian heritage.
Columbus sailed for Spain, which amassed great power and wealth from his singular achievement of rejoining two branches of humanity separated for more than ten millennia.
Hundreds of millions of immigrants and their descendants followed over the next six centuries.
Without Columbus, we remain two stranded branches.
No other human event can compare.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, we march for Columbus as a symbol of unity.
He is emblematic of the highest ideals of all immigrants starting with the ancestors of the indigenous to all who faced a vast unknown in search of liberty, opportunity, and a better life.
In the new world they sacrificed, suffered bigotry, ridicule, and exploitation.
But to their children they gave a world, a gift to be preserved, protected, and perfected from generation to generation.
The largest celebration of American Italian culture worldwide–and growing–the National Columbus Day Parade draws nearly a million spectators and 35,000 marchers.
From Generoso Pope’s humble first gathering, the Parade has broadened into a national commemoration.
For millions of immigrants and their descendants, the Christopher Columbus statue is a deep-rooted public expression of pride, culture, and identity passed from generation to generation.
Expressive conduct is recognized under the First Amendment as a form of protected speech.
The recent attacks and the hateful defilement of Columbus and other statues are not mere acts of vandalism.
These are hate crimes.
They are hurtful to those who express their pride in their culture and in the accomplishments of their forebears.
It’s time for federal and state law authorities to investigate and prosecute hate crimes to the full extent of the law.
It’s time to drop the hate and seek the truth.