Hundreds of students at Fresno City College protested Christopher Columbus Day on Monday. Protesters said the Italian explorer should not be celebrated. Many Native Americans claim he enslaved their people. The protesters are pushing for the holiday to be renamed Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Los Angeles City Council and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors recently voted to replace the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day. Organizers of Monday’s protest in Fresno said they want local city leaders to do the same.
FCC first-year student Cecelia Casillas joined in on the protest, which drew at least 150 people.
“This day wasn’t a joke back then, and it still isn’t a joke now because we’re still dealing with racism and imperialism,” stated Casillas.
The young woman belongs to the Table Mountain Rancheria. She said she she used to not go to school on this day.
She said, “When I was in school, I dealed with racism and I just didn’t like being called Indians. Are you indian? I’m like no, I’m an American Indian or I would say Native American.”
Sociology professor Bernard Navarro organized Monday’s protest.
“Today for Native people, it’s a day of remembrance, it’s a day of resistance to everything that Columbus stood for,” stated Navarro.
Navarro said though Columbus is known to have discovered America, Natives were already on the land.
Some FCC students, however, don’t think there is a need for change.
Second-year student Elise Rabbass shared, “I believe if we want Indigenous Peoples Day, then let’s have an Indigenous Peoples Day. Columbus Day has been here forever, why are we choosing today, right now, 2017 to change it and argue about it
? It’s history, it happened.”
But Navarro said he will never stop protesting.
“Until this federal holiday is renamed Indigenous Peoples Day or Native American Remembrance Day, I’ll always be out here,” ended Navarro.
Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937.