To The Italian-American Community

From Bill Cerruti, Chair,
California Italian-American Task Force

Report on Italian Heritage Day in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Declares Italian Heritage Day - I would like to report to all of you who have shown an interest in the campaign to Save Columbus Day as an Italian-American Holiday that the City of Santa Barbara has officially declared the Second Monday in October as Italian Heritage Day. The City passed Resolution No. 18-084 on October 31, 2018 declaring The Second Monday both Indigenous Peoples Day and Italian Heritage Day.
It should be noted that the City of Santa Barbara did not recognize Columbus Day going into this campaign so our effort to save the day as an Italian American Day was successful.  We had opposed having Indigenous Peoples Day declared on the same date but we were not successful in our opposition to sharing the date.
As Chair of the California Italian American Task Force, I communicated and lobbied our position for Italian Heritage Day and against Indigenous Peoples Day with the Santa Barbara Tribal Foundation and with the Mayor and City Council members. We had little support on the ground and did not have Italian organizations in the area to take up the challenge so we had to champion our cause long distance. And it worked.
The Chumash Casino Tribe in Santa Barbara is very influential and sponsored the Resolution to declare the Columbus Day holiday in Santa Barbara as Indigenous Peoples Day. They are the same tribe, among others,  that sponsored the Legislative Bill to replace Columbus Day as a State Holiday last year. Our statewide Italian American community coalition and the Task Force fought and won the battle to save Columbus Day as a State Holiday. Our organized community was also instrumental in our success in Santa Barbara
Our position has been to protect Columbus Day as a day for Italian Americans to be recognized. Our goal is to save Columbus Day where it is recognized and to have Italian Day recognized where it is not. We see attempts to take away Columbus Day as Taking Away a part of our Italian Heritage. Replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day is an attempt to erase and replace our heritage with that of Native Americans. For Italian-Americans, our Heritage day is a day to celebrate our contributions and peoplehood across the nation. But for Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples day is a day to address their grievances.
I would like to thank each of the individuals and organizations that spoke up,  took a stand, and make our voice heard. It worked. I especially would like to thank the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society and the San Jose Italian-American Heritage Foundation for mobilizing their people to speak out. I would also like to thank the national organization, Tutto Italiano, for their support.
Italian-American Heritage Day Gains Ground - Blocks Indigenous Peoples Day.  During the past year, Italian-American Heritage Day has been declared on the Second Monday of October (the date Columbus Day is Observed) in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and Santa Barbara.  Unfortunately, In both San Francisco and Los Angeles which had observed Columbus Day, the recognized Columbus Day was taken from us and replaced by Indigenous Peoples Day as well as by Italian-American Heritage Day.
In spite of the attack on Columbus the man and Columbus Day the holiday, the Italian-American community was able to save the Columbus Day date in the above cities as Italian-American Day. It seems that when we act on our behalf to oppose the loss of our symbolic holiday (Columbus Day)  we are able to obtain recognition of our own day of celebration (Italian Heritage day), even in cities that did not recognize Columbus Day.  Our success in obtaining recognition of our community in city after city is something that would not have happened if we had not resisted the attack on our national day of celebration and fought for our heritage.

Only in Sacramento were we able to block Indigenous Peoples Day from being recognized on The Second Monday in October. after months of protest and negotiations with the Sacramento City Council and Native Americans, the Italian community in Sacramento agreed to accept October 12th as Indigenous Peoples Day but gained recognition of Italian American Heritage Day on the Columbus Day holiday on the Second Monday of October.  Sacramento did not recognize Columbus Day so the battle in Sacramento was over the date Columbus Day is observed. And we succeeded in keeping our traditional date for our Columbus Day and Italian Day  celebrations.
The Columbus Monument in the State Capitol Rotunda. The stunning statue of Columbus and Isabella in the State Capitol Rotunda was vandalized last year. It, like other Columbus statues, needs to be protected from removal by the Native Americans and their allies. This monument is a wonderful work of public art and part of the history and heritage of the State Capitol.
Several Columbus statues in the State have been forced to be removed this past year. The Columbus statues in both Los Angeles City hall and the San Jose City Hall were subject to forced removal. There are other Columbus Statues that need protection.
The Columbus Statue in Columbus Circle in New York was under assault but the Italian community there was able to have it Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A good move and one that the California Italian American Community can learn from.
Protecting our Heritage. It is likely the Native Americans will seek to have more cities recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on the Columbus Day Holiday this year and into the future. It is also likely they will soon seek to replace the State Columbus Day Holiday with their own day until they get their way.
Further Action Will Be Needed to Protect Columbus Day and Columbus Statues and Monuments. It will be up to us to stay aware and organized to oppose the Native Americans in their continuing attempts to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
As Chair of the California Italian-American Task Force, I ask each of you to continue  to support  our campaign to save Columbus Day as a day when we celebrate our pride, identity and unity as  Italian-Americans.
The California Italian-American Task Force is a State Commission created by the Legislature to address the concerns of the Italian American Population of California.  We are developing an email list of organizations and individuals to work together to Save Columbus Day and Italian-American Heritage Day. 
Action Requested of the Italian-American Organizations. We need your organizations email address and contact persons for the campaign. We have found it difficult to coordinate with all the interested organizations and coalitions of organizations in southern California and in the San Francisco Bay area We need this information to show our unity and strength . Send your information to Bill Cerruti at:  Or you may call me at 916-482-5900.
Columbus Day Action Alerts. Please keep us informed of any activity regarding attempts to replace Columbus day with Indigenous Peoples Day and any actions against Columbus Monuments and Statues. If we coordinate our efforts we can win our battles to protect the future of our heritage.