Support Italian Heritage and the National Columbus Day Parade

Dear friends and leaders of our Italian American community,

As we approach the end of the summer and gear up for the National Columbus Day Parade and celebration in October, I want to share the good news: Columbus Heritage Coalition is advancing the goals we set at our last meeting to intensify our vigilance on issues affecting our community.

Most urgently, we continue to closely monitor the state Legislature, focusing on protecting the Columbus Day state holiday. A group of eight Senators led by Senator Jessica Ramos of Queens has sponsored a bill to cancel Columbus and assign the holiday to native Americans. A separate bill would enshrine “indigenous people” day for the first time, appearing alongside Columbus Day.

These proposals represent nothing less than a full frontal attack on the Italian American community, and we must do everything in our power to defeat them.

We continue to engage the Italian Legislative Caucus and other friends in Albany to rescind this legislation. We have brought light to those who support the removal of the Columbus Circle Memorial, including Senator Alessandra Biaggi, the granddaughter of Mario Biaggi, the great congressman and Columbus advocate. Senator Biaggi gave up her state Senate seat for an unsuccessful run for Congress.

Our programming and educational efforts are growing. We are continuing to invite those expert individuals who can educate our community and the public to correct the misconceptions they may have about Columbus. We urge you to join us for two outstanding events in early September, produced and cosponsored by Columbus Heritage Coalition at the Columbus Citizens Foundation.

September 8th: Best-selling author Mary Grabar deconstructs Howard Zinn, the self-described anarchist socialist who first and wrongly accused Columbus of genocide in his 1980 book, “A Peoples History of the United States.” As we all know, it went downhill from there. This event is a must for all who seek to understand how Zinn’s seed germinated into a movement of societal self-immolation, with Columbus as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Please join us for an evening of enlightenment with Professor Graybar on Thursday, September 8th, at 6:00 pm. We are grateful to the National Italian American Foundation, John Calvelli, executive vice chairman, and Robert Allegrini, president, for their generous support of this event.

RSVP here:

September 12th: New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the state’s senior statewide elected leader and chief financial officer, on Monday, September 12th at 6:00 pm. The comptroller, the sole trustee of the $250 billion state pension fund, will provide his learned assessment and forecast of all facets of the state economy. You won’t want to miss Comptroller DiNapoli’s important presentation cosponsored by the Coalition and the Foundation.

RSVP here:

Again, I humbly request and urge you, as vital friends and leaders of Italian Americans, to support these efforts to unite the community by joining us and encouraging others to attend.

The Coalition is also creating relationships with leaders in our community and beyond who are in a position to help us preserve Columbus Day and Columbus Memorials. We are working on expanding support to include other groups and ethnicities. In Brooklyn, our efforts helped stop cold a radical group that tried to knock down New York City’s oldest memorial to Columbus, designed by Emma Stebbins, a pioneer of the gay community.

Across the river in Newark, the Coalition uncovered the city administration’s willful bias against Italian Americans and its outrageous disregard of state and federal historic preservation laws. Under cover of darkness, the Newark administration seized the Columbus statue in downtown George Washington Park two years ago. Recently, on August 18th, the city administration demolated the statue’s pedestal, installed on that spot nearly a century ago.

The act of destruction was in direct defiance of a state directive. Our colleagues Frank Lorenzo and Andre DiMino of One Voice have taken the lead and are pursuing legal action to correct this wrong.

We are building our communications efforts timed to culminate during the Columbus holiday season. Our robust communications program will recognize the 80th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s lifting of the World War Il-era arrests, detentions, internments, exclusions, and restrictions imposed on individuals of Italian ancestry residing in the U.S. Several of you have already joined us as we position this narrative and our message in conjunction with necessary legislative action.

The Coalition gratefully acknowledges the Foundation’s generous support of our collaborative efforts to be spotlighted on the Joe Piscopo Show on AM 970 The Answer during the two weeks leading up to Columbus Day, October 10th. I will represent the Coalition on Fifth Avenue at the National Columbus Day Parade on that day and participate in 770 AM WABC radio and WABC.comnational coverage of the parade, thanks to the support of Cats at Night host John Catsimatidis. Their signal reaches more than 1 million listeners.

I look forward to greeting you on September 8th for Professor Graybar and September 12th for Comptroller DiNapoli!

Enjoy the remainder of the summer!

Angelo Vivolo
Columbus Heritage Coalition