A Reply to the Stamford Board of Ed Regarding Columbus Day

(Courtesy of UNICO)

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To the Editor:

The action by the Board of Education to remove Columbus Day from the school calendar against the recommendation of a community panel shines a bright light on a situation that I have personally heard from school parents which is the problematic Stamford school curriculum surrounding the discovery of America and Christopher Columbus that contains information that is not historically accurate and denigrates Columbus and the significance of his world changing feat. 

I and the people I speak for are only interested in teaching the truth about history and I’m sure that is all the district wants also. We would  like to be able to look at all the material being used to teach this topic including textbooks, lesson plans, worksheets, websites referred to and to discuss any problematic material. I, myself am widely read on the subject as are the academics who have volunteered with me to evaluate the material with the ultimate goal of teaching correct history. We would like this to be as constructive as possible with the goal of teaching this in a balanced and fair way.

Did you know that Columbus’ discovery of America has been called the most significant event in the history of the human race.  Is that being taught to our children?

Columbus’ discovery of America reunited two branches of the human race that had been completely separated for 10,000 years. Is that taught at all?

Facts you may not know:

  • Columbus was not a slave owner and never owned slaves.

  • Columbus did not introduce slavery to the New World. Among the Indigenous people slavery was widespread and had been in place for a thousand years.

  • While Columbus was from Genoa which is now in Italy, he spoke Spanish and was funded and sponsored by the King and Queen of Spain. His crew was completely Spanish as were the captains of the other two ships on the voyage. Do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? You can thank Christopher Columbus who discovered Hispaniola in 1492.

Is any of this taught in our schools?

You may ask why we, the Italian American Community, take up this fight. When our great grandparents came here and were viciously discriminated against, they wanted to prove to America that they sincerely loved this country and wanted to be accepted as a part of it. They did it by adopting the celebration of Columbus who was already an iconic American hero, organizing parades and erecting statues.

We’re continuing that legacy, showing that love of America that we and all immigrants should have. We demand that you teach this love of America to our children and that you help us review this subject and that Columbus Day be reinserted in the school calendar. Let’s stop teaching hate and start teaching history.

This has to change now.

Dr. Alfred Fusco
Stamford, CT

Fusco is the founding member of UNICO, an Italian-American service organization