Resetting Columbus’ Narrative a Key Priority for Genoa’s Mayor as Public and Legal Opinion Shift in the U.S.
Mayor Marco Bucci launches academic reexamination of Columbus’ life and legacy, days after Italian Americans win major lawsuit that saved navigator’s statue in Philadelphia, per The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations
GENOA, Italy, Dec. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- A historical reckoning is underway in the U.S. and Italy as governmental and cultural leaders work to reset prevailing narratives that, for decades, have maligned Columbus’ legacy and the monuments that pay homage to him.
In Italy, Genoa’s Mayor — Marco Bucci — passed a resolution establishing a center for Colombian studies that will be housed in the historic Palazzo Ducale (a 700-year-old Genoese palace that has been converted into a world-renowned museum and cultural hub).
The new center will enlist researchers and academics to scan and catalog Columbus’ documents and artifacts, stored away in archives and museums across both Italy and the globe, to create a robust database that will offer a wealth of source material and analysis on the navigator and his world-changing voyages.
“Cherry-picked and decontextualized research has completely blurred our knowledge of, and perceptions toward, centuries-old global history,” said Basil M. Russo, who leads The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations. “COPOMIAO proudly supports Mayor Bucci’s unprecedented Columbus project, as it will provide overdue clarity to Columbus’s innumerable contributions to the formation of our modern world.”
In the U.S., Russo — in coordination with a grass roots network of Italian American organizations, politicians and Italian dignitaries — helped score major legal victories in Syracuse earlier this year, and last week in Philadelphia, blocking city leaders from removing Columbus statues.
Additionally, a federal lawsuit is playing out in Philadelphia, where COPOMIAO’s National Counsel George Bochetto is arguing that Columbus’ holidays and monuments be preserved under the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection” against government discrimination.
“Columbus statues and parades were organized and built en masse by Italian immigrants who used the explorer as a symbol to fuel assimilation and fight crushing discrimination,” said Bochetto. “Today these monuments and events, thanks to misinformation, have been conflated with racism and prejudice. This past year, we saw a surge in attendance at Columbus Day parades, from San Francisco, to Chicago, to Cleveland, to New York City. People want to celebrate their history and ancestry, and COPOMIAO and myself think every community and ethnicity should have the freedom and the right to do so.”
Read more on the explorer’s history, and its’ impact on Italian American culture, in President Joe Biden’s 2022 Columbus Day Proclamation.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF MAJOR ITALIAN AMERICAN ORGANIZATIONS
Formed in 1975 and based in NYC, COPOMIAO is comprised of 60 of the most influential, cultural, educational, fraternal and anti-defamation groups in the nation. The Conference of Presidents is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution. www.copomiao.org
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SOURCE The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations