Oppose Any Attempts to Rename Columbus Park and/or remove Columbus Statue in Hackensack NJ

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Oppose Any Attempts to Rename Columbus Park in Hackensack, NJ and/or remove the Statue of Christopher Columbus in said park.

The Hackensack Chapter of UNICO National, its officers, members, and Board of Directors, along with Italian-American concerned citizens of Hackensack, oppose any or all attempts to rename Columbus Park in Hackensack, NJ and/or remove the Statue of Christopher Columbus in said park.

In 1940, while sons and daughters of Italian immigrants were joining the Allied Forces in WW II, construction of the First Ward Park began. Once completed, it was named Columbus Park. This naming was in recognition of the contributions of the many Italian immigrants who settled in the City of Hackensack, with the First Ward being the landing zone for a majority of them.

The First Ward was a unique Italian community, with these Italian residents forming their own churches, opening their own ethnic retail shops, among other forms of unity and neighborliness.

This group prayed together, worked together, formed relationships that have lasted decades and multiple generations, most still to this day. They enjoyed many pleasures in pursuit of the “American Dream”.

Every October for the last 48 years, the Hackensack Chapter of UNICO National (UNICO) celebrates Columbus Day by gathering in Columbus Park, on the UNICO Plaza at the Columbus statue.

This statue was donated to the City by UNICO in 1974. In later years, through the hard work and fundraising efforts of many of UNICO’s past and present members, the Columbus Park arch was erected in 1986.

Each year we take pride in honoring an outstanding citizen who has contributed to our City by bestowing on them the “Christopher Columbus Distinguished Community Service Award”.  As a matter of fact, a number of current and former City officials have been bestowed with this award.

 

The fact is that the popular conversation surrounding Columbus today is filled with misconceptions. Christopher Columbus never owned slaves or brought any to the Western Hemisphere from Africa. In fact, Columbus found that slavery was practiced in the Caribbean by native tribes, the Caribs and Canibs. He was not a racist, he did not consider the native Indians to be racially inferior, and in fact, praised their generosity, innocence, and intelligence and had friendly relations with them.

Columbus did not commit genocide; the death of many native Indians was actually due to the lack of immunity to such diseases as small pox, typhoid, diphtheria, measles and mumps that they contracted from the Spanish explorers.

Christopher Columbus has always been an iconic symbol to remember the many things our ancestors did to ensure a better life for themselves and their descendants. 

Renaming Columbus Park and/or removal of the Columbus Statue does nothing to help resolve the tensions and difficulties faced by a modern society trying to interpret the past. 

What it does do is delegitimize the City’s Italian Americans’ history, stories and struggles, and we have just as much a right to have these represented as any other group.  We work hard every day—just like our forefathers did—to make the City a better place for all of us.

Therefore, help us stop the insanity by signing the petition to Oppose Any Attempts to Rename Columbus Park in Hackensack, NJ and/or remove the Statue of Christopher Columbus in said park.