California could soon be the next state to do away with Columbus Day thanks to a bill proposed by Assembly member Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), reports Huffington Post
“The Native American Day bill, or AB 55, would replace Columbus Day, which falls on the second Monday in October, with “Native American Day.” Assembly member Hernandez proposed the bill Monday.
“Native American Day is already recognized in California. Gov. Ronald Reagan designated the fourth Friday in September for the day of remembrance in 1968, and it became an official state holiday in 1998. However, neither Columbus Day nor Native American Day are paid state holidays. Columbus Day used to be one for decades, until the recession moved California representatives to eliminate the paid holiday in 2009. Hernandez’s bill would reinstate the paid holiday, which would close down state agencies and give employees a paid day off, but rename it “Native American Day.” The September day of remembrance designated by Reagan would no longer be needed.
“We’re not trying to rewrite history,” said Assemblymember Hernandez in a phone call with The Huffington Post. “We just want to provide recognition and credit to the true discoverers of the land.” When asked about the fact that many Italian-Americans view Columbus Day as a cultural heritage celebration, Assemblymember Hernandez explained that the cultural contributions of an entire community should be viewed separately from the actions of one man. “Why replace it? That’s the day we honor Columbus for discovering the Americas,” said Hernandez. “And that’s very unfair to the original inhabitants.” He then went on to compare Native American Day to Holocaust Remembrance day. “When we honor the victims that have suffered from genocide in Germany, it isn’t to be anti-German,” he explained. “It’s to bring proper recognition to people who have suffered and been displaced. This bill is looking to do that for the original settlers in the Americas.”