Best written explanations on why Columbus matters to Little Italy in Baltimore

Jul 09, 2020 300

Social media has blown up over the Columbus statue topic. We realize the topic holds great controversy ... we realize there are two sides to every story ... and, we realize there are MANY outcries and opinions.

Without causing further heated arguments and meanness to each other, we simply would like to help people UNDERSTAND WHY the Italian community has had a Columbus statue in Little Italy for the past 36 years by sharing these two "BEST WRITTEN EXPLANATIONS".

"Allow me to respond to those who want to lecture about the 'man' for whom the statue was created. Do you actually think our great-grandfathers and grandfathers actually analyzed this man and knowingly, heartlessly chose such a flawed character to represent us? NO. This dedication was gifted to our predecessors in order to suffice for atrocities done to Italians, in the beginning. So, there was no malice aforethought. Getting back to the future, today, what is most upsetting is that the Italian community was working together to peacefully move the statue to [personal property]. What is most upsetting is that a mob took away our ability to do so. It was as though they pulled out our hearts ... and not because we support all the atrocities attributed to Columbus."
~ Gia Blattermann, Little Italy resident, an Italian immigrant from Sicily

"The statue commemorated the navigator, yes. But it wasn't an issue solely about 'Columbus.' [President Ronald] Reagan came then to dedicate the statue and celebrate the pride of Baltimore's rebirth and renaissance ... Reagan assisted [William Donald] Schaefer with grants to help rebuild around the Harbor. More importantly, the folks celebrating that day were the children of immigrants who embodied the dreams of their parents. Immigrant Pride was palpable if you really listen to the audience - these humble people got a President to come to 'The Neighborhood!' It was a special day for Baltimore. It was special for Italian immigrants - who, remember, were once shunned and discriminated. THAT is what was toppled and thrown into the harbor ... This statue, and that dedication, was a monument to an ideal, not necessarily the man alone. It was the High Water Mark of achievement for the city and Little Italy. But it wasn't just Columbus thrown - it was my parents, grandparents, (Tirocchi) and relatives' pride that were also chained and toppled."
~ Tim Elliott, Italian American

SOURCE: Promotion Center for Little Italy, Baltimore

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