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People’s column

Columbus article insight appreciated

Editor, OBSERVER:

Dr. Ray Belliotti’s article about the establishment of Columbus Day is timely in light of the ongoing controversy over monuments honoring certain men who figured in the shaping of our country. Buffalo’s changing of “Columbus Park” to “West Side Park” is a close example.

Each Oct. 12 has brought thoughts of Columbus, but also of my mom, born on that day and named “Isabelle” in honor of the queen who financed the famous expedition. But still, mom made sure her children were aware of the lack of humanity exhibited by “the discoverer of the New World” toward that world’s original inhabitants.

On the very first page of Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States 1492 – Present,” we find this entry in Columbus’s log about the native people who welcomed him: “With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” Recently, I spent a month on the Bahamian island of San Salvador, and cringed each time a resident proudly boasted that Columbus’s first landfall in the new world was on their tiny island.

It is interesting to learn how the establishment of Columbus as national hero was so instrumental in helping Italian Americans overcome the bigotry and violence they originally faced in this country. My mom’s childhood recollection of the lynching of an Italian American man in her little hometown outside New Orleans has stuck with me through the years.

So many groups have faced hatred as they try to be accepted. Several homes in Fredonia are now sporting the colorful signs beginning “In this home we believe …” in a show of acceptance for those facing intolerance. This is good, but so much more is required of us.

MARY CHARBONNET,

Fredonia

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