GLEN ROCK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Columbus Day is under fire in one New Jersey town, where city officials are considering doing away with the holiday.
In Glen Rock, Columbus Day is out and “Indigenous People’s Day” is in – maybe.
“I actually kind of like that change. It sounds better than Columbus Day and Columbus didn’t really do much,” resident Catherine Kunz claimed.
What the famed explorer did do has recently been the focus of mounting controversy.
Amid calls to remove Columbus’ statues and boycott Columbus Day parades, city leaders say emails are flooding in from residents, fed up with celebrating the man who they allege brutalized Native American people.
“They’re asking to remove Columbus Day from the calendar, replace it with Indiginous People’s Day. A lot of the emails went on to highlight the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed,” Glen Rock councilman Bill Leonard said.
The pressure prompted a debate this week at the Glen Rock City Council over whether to do away with the now-controversial holiday, or rename it in honor of the people who were living in the area first.
Opponents of the name change say it’s just one more example of the growing trend of political correctness that is stifling and attempting to rewrite history.
“We’re trying to revisit history and we shouldn’t be. He did his job and we can’t apply today’s values to things that happened yesterday,” Bob VanLangen said.
“We shouldn’t try to change history. The facts are the facts,” Andre DiMino said.
DiMino is from the Italian American One Voice Coalition and is pleading with the city council to make the holiday calendar more inclusive – rather than exclusive.
“There’s 364 other days in the year. Why do they have to do it on Columbus Day? We have nothing against indigenous people and we’ll celebrate with them; on another day,” DiMino explained.
Glen Rock’s mayor says the debate will continue at the next city council meeting, when residents will have a chance share their opinions in person.
The Glen Rock city council plans to revisit the topic on May 8.