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The debate over Christopher Columbus comes to New Haven


NEW HAVEN - We all know the rhyme: "In 14-hundred-and-92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

But... then it gets more complicated.

The federal and state holiday has come under the modern day microscope. A better awareness that while Christoper Columbus' journey was a bold and challenging act that changed the world, not all of the stories are accurate. He wasn't the first European in the New World (the vikings beat him by about 900 years), he didn't "discover America" (he landed in the Bahamas), and he helped begin an age of bloody conquest and abuse of native peoples.

On Saturday, immigrant activists marched to the Christopher Columbus Family Academy Magnet School in New Haven to call for a name change.

"Name should be removed because it's an insult," said John Lugo of Latinos United in Action. "It makes us remember the people who suffered, and who are still suffering, in Latin America at the hands of the perpetrators 527 years ago."

The protesters say New Haven's population has changed.

"We would like to see here a school named after some of the leaders who represent our community," said Marco Castillo of the Transnational Villages Network. "There is a large percentage of immigrants in New Haven who come from indigenous communities," he said. "Many of them come to the United States and to New Haven in particular and bring their cultural treasures and they basically keep it in the shadows."

The group said will spend Monday celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day.

Meanwhile, the Knights of Columbus, who helped convince FDR to make Columbus Day a federal holiday, have their national headquarters in New Haven. They say that people who want to stop honoring the Italian mariner "want to cast all blame for the atrocities committed against American Indians at the feet of Columbus." They say the attacks are unfair to explorer, "who was far better than most for his time."

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