DENVER, CO — Rep. Adrienne Benavidez’s bill to replace Columbus Day with another holiday was approved by the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee today. As currently amended, the bill would abolish Columbus Day and replace it with a holiday celebrating Frances Xavier Cabrini on the first Monday in October in recognition of her service and dedication to the wellbeing of children and the Italian American community in Colorado and across the country. The bill passed 6-2.
“The memory and legacy of Christopher Columbus are a painful reminder of injustice in the minds of indigenous people across our state,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez (D-Adams County). “Having a day set aside every year to celebrate the life of a rapist and known perpetrator of genocide is cruel and unacceptable. Coloradans deserve a holiday that celebrates someone who shares their values, and Frances Xavier Cabrini fits the bill perfectly.”
“We cannot continue to present a revisionist and inaccurate version of history by celebrating Columbus and his ‘discovery’ of America,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood), who chairs the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. “Holidays in our state should celebrate individuals who contributed to the progress and wellbeing of our nation and its people — not genocidal colonialists. It is time to end the pain and suffering that this holiday causes and replace it with a holiday celebrating someone worthy of the honor.”
As currently amended, HB20-1031 would establish Cabrini Day as a state holiday in place of Columbus Day in recognition of her humanitarian values and lifelong dedication to service, especially to the Italian American immigrant community, who faced untold discrimination and difficulty as they migrated 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.