Federated Italo-Americans (download news articles)

 

2013 NEWS ALERT

CONGRATULATIONS!

DUE TO THE OVERWHELMING SUPPORT AND RESPONSE FROM THE GREATER COMMUNITY TO THE BELOW PETITION, BILL AB55 WAS WITHDRAWN BY THE SPONSORING ASSEMBLYMAN. 

WE SAVED COLUMBUS DAY IN CALIFORNIA!

Hi, I just signed the following petition — Stop Bill AB 55, a move to disband Columbus Day in California! Will you join me?

Click here to find out more and sign:

 http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Bill_AB_55_a_move_to_disband_Columbus_Day/?kgSukdb 

Thanks so much

Please forward this to those interested in preserving Christopher Columbus Day in California:

January 21, 2013

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

It is with dismay that I must bring to your attention Bill “AB55” (section A & B below), as recently submitted by CA Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of the 48th District (Azusa, Baldwin Park, Covina, La Puente, West Covina, Irwindale, Industry, and the San Gabriel Valley unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including Bassett, Charter Oak, Citrus, East Arcadia, Hacienda Heights, North Whittier, Ramona and Valinda): (http://assembly.ca.gov)

 

“A) In order to recognize the genocide inflicted upon Native Americans and their removal from their ancestral lands, and to acknowledge the numerous contributions made by Native Americans to California and the nation, the second Monday in October, previously known as Columbus Day, shall be known as Native American Day.

 

B) In order to honor and recognize Native American Day with the dignity and distinction that it deserves, this act grants state employees a holiday on the second Monday in October. Local agencies, including counties, cities, special districts, and school districts, acting appropriately through the collective bargaining process, may provide their employees with a paid holiday on the second Monday in October so that Native American Day may be appropriately honored throughout the state.” 

 

On behalf of the Italian American community, who hold Christopher Columbus in high regard for both his historic achievements and because Columbus Day is the only day our nation recognizes the heritage of an estimated 16 to 26 million Americans of Italian descent, we believe that the recognition of Columbus Day should continue to be held on the 2nd Monday in October. In doing so, we invite those who may not be informed of his historical significance, to learn more about Columbus’accomplishments and why we believe in the continued celebration of Columbus Day, while also dispelling the myths and propaganda that he is accused of in Bill “AB55”.

 

Columbus Day recognizes the achievements of a great Renaissance explorer and commemorates the discovery of America, which led to the influx of ideas and people of Western Europe on which this nation was founded and still rests.  Celebrating the beginning of cultural exchange between America and Europe is why this is one of America’s oldest and patriotic holidays. The Italian American community also credits the journey and arrival of Columbus as a way to commemorate the arrival on these shores of more than 5 million Italians beginning in 1880.

We also want to go on record that we fully support the continued celebration of “Native American Day”, which has been recognized since 1968 on the 4th Friday in September.

 

THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FORMALLY OPPOSE BILL AB55:

 

1. Sign this On-Line Petition as “Formal Opposition to Bill AB55″: 
Hi, I just signed the following petition — Stop Bill AB 55, a move to disband Columbus Day in California! Will you join me? Click here to find out more and sign: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Bill_AB_55_a_move_to_disband_Columbus_Day/?kgSukdb Thanks so much

 

2. Either write your own letter of “Formal Opposition to AB55” or fill out the attached “Formal Opposition to AB55” Form (must include your Name/Contact Information/City of Residence) and mail/email a copy to:
a) Assemblyman Mike Gatto: District Office 300 East Magnolia, Suite 504, Burbank, CA 91502 (Communications Director): justin.hager@asm.ca.gov
b) Assemblyman Roger Hernandez: District Office 100 N. Barranca, Suite 895, West Covina, CA 91791 (author of Bill AB55)
c) Federated President Ann Potenza: 16217 Kittridge St. Van Nuys, CA 91406; annpotenza@aol.com
d) Your Own Assembly District Representative!
e) Political Representatives on the local and national level!
f) Italian American Organization Leaders (State and National)
g) Governor Jerry Brown: c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814

 

3. Go on the California Assembly Website http://assembly.ca.gov
a) subscribe to Bill AB55 for updates on the bill progress.
b) email each Assemblymember through their online “contact”. You may wish to contact as many Assemblymembers as you can through email, but please email Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Assemblyman Roger Hernandez FIRST!  You will be able to include up to 2000 words in your email and you are welcome to use information from the above or attached statements as you see fit.

 

4. Don’t forget the Power of the Press and Social Media!
a) post the on-line petition on your Facebook, Twitter, etc.
b) send a letter to your local newspaper editor and national news outlets.

 

5. Education, Education, Education!
a) learn the history of Christopher Columbus and discuss with others who may not be aware (the attached document can be a guideline to start).
b) find out what is being taught about Christopher Columbus in the school system and educate your children if they do not know.
c) learn about the contributions of Native Americans and celebrate “Native American Day” with them on the 4th Friday in September.

 

 All letters sent to my attention will be collected and submitted to the “Policy Committee” (where testimony is heard in support/opposition to a Bill before it is passed on to the “Fiscal Committee” and then put to a vote before the Assembly).  Thank you in advance for your participation and activation!

 

Respectfully,
Ann Potenza
President
Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

                        ITALIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY UNITES TO DEFEAT AB55

 

CA Assemblyman seeks to disband Columbus Day and replace with Native American Day

Christopher Columbus’ achievements as a great Renaissance explorer and his discovery of America, which led to the influx of ideas and people of Western Europe on which America was founded and still rests, is why we must continue to celebrate Columbus Day on the second Monday in October each year”, emphatically states Ann Potenza, President of the Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California, “To deny his achievements is to rewrite history and to condemn Columbus is to condemn ourselves, citizens of the United States, descendants of this Western Civilization.”

It was this subject, protecting Columbus Day from a new bill introduced in the California Assembly by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of the 48th District that found itself at the center of many Italian American meetings this past week.  Comprised of over 70 Italian American organizations in Southern California, from San Diego up to Santa Barbara, the Federated Italo-Americans of Southern California serves as an umbrella organization for the exchange of such community information, as well as annual celebrations of Republic Day and Columbus Day, and hosted the first community event on the issue.  It was here that Potenza assembled the first call to action on opposing such legislation in the California Assembly, by guiding the members in the process of alerting local officials, local and national Italian American organizations, utilizing the power of the press and starting the first on-line petition to circulate among the community directed to California Governor Jerry Brown.

Bill AB55, authored by CA Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of the 48th District reads as states:

a)In order to recognize the genocide inflicted upon Native Americans and their removal from their ancestral lands, and to acknowledge the numerous contributions made by Native Americans to California and the nation, the second Monday in October, previously known as Columbus Day, shall be known as Native American Day.

b)In order to honor and recognize Native American Day with the dignity and distinction that it deserves, this act grants state employees a holiday on the second Monday in October. Local agencies, including counties, cities, special districts, and school districts, acting appropriately through the collective bargaining process, may provide their employees with a paid holiday on the second Monday in October so that Native American Day may be appropriately honored throughout the state.

In direct contrast to the claims in AB55, if you ask the members of the Italian American community what they think of Columbus, they will be the first ones to tell you that for much of its history, the United States considered Columbus a man worthy of admiration. Columbus Day is one of America’s oldest patriotic holidays, first celebrated in 1792 to honor the 300th anniversary of his first voyage. One hundred years later, in 1892, the Pledge of Allegiance was written to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. That same year, President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day a legal holiday.  America has more monuments to Columbus than any other nation in the world. Generations of American school children studied his life and accomplishments and teachers held him up as an example of a person of character, who overcame strong opposition and great disappointment but never gave up trying to prove what he believed to be true.  The Italian American community also credits the journey and arrival of Columbus as a way to commemorate the arrival on these shores of more than 5 million Italians beginning in 1880. 

 

The Italian government, through its diplomatic and consular representatives has always lent its utmost support to observances and celebrations organized by Italian American associations and civic groups”, jointly states Consul General Giuseppe Perrone and Consul General Mauro Battocchi, representatives of Italy in Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, “Italian Americans in California are completely integrated in the social fabric, yet cherish their Italian heritage and their forefathers’ culture.  Their pursuit of these cherished interests offers the opportunity of cultural expansion and exchange for all, without ethnic or other barrier, for the benefit of society at large.  We have always proudly participated in the civic ceremonies organized for the occasion alongside local authorities.  In Italy as well, on Columbus Day, the highest authorities, including the President of the Republic, seize every year the opportunity to underline the significance of the Columbus Day celebrations that go beyond the historical commemoration, to embody the friendship and cooperation between our two countries and the recognition of the extraordinary contributions and achievements of all Italian Americans”.

 

After Columbus arrived in America, millions of European immigrants brought their art, music, science, medicine, philosophy and religious principles to America. These contributions have helped shape the United States and include Greek democracy, Roman law, Judeo-Christian ethics and the belief that all men are created equal.  The Columbian Exchange, also known as the Grand Exchange, was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations and ideas between the American and Afro-Eurasian Hemispheres The contact between the two areas circulated a wide variety of new crops and livestock which supported increases in population in both hemispheres. One of the first European export, the horse, changed the lives of many Native American tribes on the Great Plains, allowing them to shift to a nomadic lifestyle based on hunting bison on horseback. Explorers returned to Europe with maize, potatoes, and tomatoes, which became very important crops in Eurasia by the 18th century. Similarly, Europeans introduced manioc and the peanut to tropical Southeast Asia and West Africa, where they flourished and supported growth in populations on soils that otherwise would not produce large yields.

 

In direct contrast, since 1992, the reputation of Columbus has suffered at the hands of special interest groups who have used this 15th century Renaissance navigator to further their 21st century political and social agendas.  As a result, today Columbus is often depicted as a slave trader, racist, and even “the Hitler of the 15th century.” A small but vocal number of historians, journalists, text-book writers and teachers have helped spread these charges despite their questionable foundation in historical fact.  Increasingly, Italian American communities are finding their Columbus Day celebrations marred by demonstrations and their First Amendment rights denied by special interest groups who sometimes turn violent.  Despite this controversy, Italian Americans continue to hold Columbus in high regard for his historic achievements and designate Columbus Day as a day to recognize the heritage of an estimated 16 to 26 million Americans of Italian descent living in America today.

 

In conclusion, Potenza wants it to be known that, “The Italian American community fully supports the celebration of ‘Native American Day’, which has been recognized since 1968 on the 4th Friday in September, and we encourage Assemblyman Hernandez to focus his energy on helping to make that holiday as special as it should be.  Columbus Day belongs to All Americans, not only Italian Americans.  Rather than divide, we invite him to be an instrument of peace by celebrating the contributions that all groups have brought to this great country of ours.”

Write letters to your representatives followed up by phone calls, and pass this on to as many people as possible”, strongly urges State President Maria Fassio Pignati, Order Sons of Italy in America, “It’s time to defend our culture, as any other ethnic group would defend themselves against an attack of this nature. Please protect our Italian heritage-don’t be silent, don’t be passive, and don’t be complacent.  As the song states: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone’.  PLEASE DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN”!!!

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