Christopher Columbus

Kyle Mackie / WBFO News file

October 12 is a day with a mixture of meanings. For some, it’s Indigenous Peoples Day, for others it’s Italian Heritage Day, and of course federally it’s Columbus Day.

WBFO Photo/Mike Desmond

For the group Bella Ciao Buffalo, the removal of the statue of Christopher Columbus from Columbus Park is a good first step. Emily Terrana says the first immigrants to the United States from Italy hailed Columbus as a hero, of sorts, because they "needed a person to grab onto to say 'we, too, are Americans.'" That attitude is shifting. "We don't have to be proud of Christopher Columbus any more." Terrana's group maintains there are others of Italian heritage more worthy of their pride than Columbus and his legacy as a colonizer who subjected natives to extreme violence and brutality.

Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

Nearly a century ago, when Buffalo's West Side was heavily Italian-American, the Federation of Italian-American Societies installed a large statue of Christopher Columbus along Porter Avenue, in what is now Columbus Park. The statute is now gone and the park name will be gone soon, as well.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that he did not believe New York City's prominent statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed and pointed out its importance in the Italian American community.

Cuomo was asked on Thursday at a press conference whether it was time for the statue, which stands above the city's Columbus Circle subway stop, to go.

To some, Columbus Day is merely a day off from work. Others view it as traditional holiday that commemorates an explorer’s arrival to the Americas. Still others shun it as an inappropriate national holiday that should not be celebrated -- or should be redefined.