DENVER, CO — The Colorado House today gave initial approval to a bill to eliminate state recognition of Columbus Day, a holiday named after the perpetrator of numerous crimes against humanity, and instead create a holiday that recognizes humanitarian Frances Xavier Cabrini. The new holiday would be the first state holiday named after a woman and would honor Cabrini’s tireless work on behalf of Colorado’s children.
“Every year, for far too long, Columbus Day has brought pain to indigenous people in our state and around the country,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County). “Today we took a step towards not only ending the pain caused by this holiday but also honoring Italian American icon Frances Xavier Cabrini. Cabrini Day would be the first state holiday in Colorado to honor a woman, and I’m proud that we are another step closer to making this a reality.”
“We cannot continue to celebrate a man whose legacy causes so much pain and suffering to so many in our state,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica (D-Northglenn). “Holidays are a time to reflect on and celebrate the lives of great historical figures whose lives and values we would like to emulate. Columbus does not fit the bill and Francis Xavier Cabrini does; it’s as simple as that.”
HB20-1031 would establish Cabrini Day on the first Monday in October as a state holiday. It would be a paid holiday for state employees, and the bill would remove state sanction of Columbus day, which occurs one week later. The holiday would recognize Cabrini’s humanitarian values and lifelong dedication to service, especially to the Italian American immigrant community, who faced discrimination and difficulty as they immigrated to America. She worked tirelessly to support the Italian-American community in the United States, including through several projects in Colorado.
In 1904, Cabrini established Denver’s Queen of Heaven Orphanage for girls. In 1910, she founded a summer camp for the orphanage’s residents in Golden, Colorado. Currently, a shrine stands in her honor in the original location of the summer camp in Golden. The shrine includes the “Stone House”, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Columbus Day is one of the few holidays named after a person, and its continued existence perpetuates the pain and suffering he inflicted. He was responsible for the kidnapping, rape and murder of thousands. Over 50,000 indigenous people committed suicide rather than comply with his rule, and within two years of his landing in the Bahamas, over 125,000 people died, half the population. The bill aims to end the state sanctioned pain this holiday
The bill passed on Second Reading this morning; the bill will still have to have a formal Third Reading vote before moving to the Senate.