Philly’s Italian-American Community Fighting To Keep Columbus Day

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Los Angeles has joined Seattle, Portland, and many other cities in replacing the annual Columbus day celebration with Native American Day.

But that won’t happen in Philadelphia if the Italian-American community has anything to say about it.

“We need to learn from history, not take down history,” said Marco Circelli, Executive Director of the Filitalia Museum on Passyunk Avenue.

He tells visitors the story of Christopher Columbus and other Italian explorers who paved a path to the new world. But in recent years, more than two dozen U.S. cities have decided to turn their backs on Columbus, and instead celebrate the offspring of the natives he annihilated.

That’s not sitting well with Jody Della Barba, one of the organizers of Philadelphia’s annual Columbus Day parade.

“I think it’s a disgrace to try to rewrite history. It’s an assault on Italian-Americans, because Christopher Columbus is the symbol of Italian-Americans since the late 1800’s, since the mass migration,” she said.

Della Barba says the recent flap over the Frank Rizzo statue has already primed the pump, so City Council better not get any ideas.

“They will see more Italian people than they ever saw in their life, because this is an assault on every Italian-American in this country,” said Della Barba.

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