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Supes vote to give Italian Americans, indigenous peoples equal billing on former Columbus Day

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Board of Supervisors votes 10-1 to add Italian American Heritage Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. (Laura Waxmann/S.F. Examiner)

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to designate the second Monday in October as Italian American Heritage Day.

The move came after a board vote in January to rename the former Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day drew protests from Italian Americans.

Italian American community groups began collecting signatures to overturn the legislation by Supervisor Malia Cohen with a ballot measure.

But in the end they got what they wanted, preserving the day as a time to celebrate Italian heritage.

The board approved in a 10-1 vote Tuesday legislation introduced by Supervisor Catherine Stefani “to declare the second Monday in October each year to be Italian American Heritage Day, in addition to Indigenous Peoples Day.”

“There are a great number of Italians and Italian Americans who have made immeasurable contributions to San Francisco,” Stefani said. She said the proposal is about “coming together and promoting peace and understanding” in sharing the day.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen opposed the measure. She said that not having a separate day “muddies that political act.”

“When I voted to change the second Monday of the month to indigenous peoples I did that because to me that particular date is inextricably linked with the arrival of Columbus to this land and centuries of pain that our country has inflicted on indigenous people,” Ronen said.

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