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Columbus Day Targeted by KKK Because the Explorer Was Catholic, Italian and Sailed Under the Spanish Flag

Updated on October 9, 2019
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl is a freelance writer, newspaper columnist, poet, licensed/ordained minister and founder of two outreach ministries.

The Klan broadens the range of their hate

Columbus Day is almost here and new information continues to come forth about the man who was said to have discovered America. One fact that may not be widely known is that the hate group, the KKK did not want the explorer to be celebrated. When the Ku Klux Klan was initially birthed in the 1860s it was to frighten newly freed slaves also those who sympathized with them. White republicans who assisted black people were called Scalawags and Carpet Baggers by the Klan and they were also attacked. The first inception of the KKK was shrouded in secrecy. They wore white robes and covered their faces, instilling fear in the dark of night with lynchings and cross burning. This changed in 1915 after the release of the controversial movie Birth of a Nation. The white supremacy group's popularity increased rapidly once they added other minorities to their vile hit list. Jews, Catholics, and immigrants from non-Nordic and non-Protestant European nations became targets, including Italians and Greeks. Basically, if anyone in the United States was not a White Anglo Saxon Protestant, AKA WASP's, they were in danger from the hate group and were made to feel unwelcome.

On November 25, 1915, which was Thanksgiving Day the Klan met on the summit of Stone Mountain Georgia, set up an altar with an American flag on top and opened a Bible. They held a ceremony to celebrate and solidify their views that only White Anglo Saxon Protestants had a place in the United States. They burned a 16-foot cross and for the next 50 years repeated this ritual every Labor Day. The annual meetings ended when the state of Georgia condemned the property. In 1920, while on the mountain top, the Klan promoted a massive campaign against the observance of Columbus Day. They said that because Christopher Columbus was Italian, Catholic, and had sailed under the Spanish flag he deserved no honor.

KKK rally 1920
KKK rally 1920

Separating fact from fiction about Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus has been a controversial figure for many years. Schoolchildren used to be taught, "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and told that he discovered the New World. October 12th had been observed as Columbus Day since 1866 but in 1971 was changed to the second Monday of the tenth month. Over time, this once honored historical figure changed from a hero to a villain. It has been said that Columbus brought syphilis and other diseases to the Native Americans and that he was greedy and murdered Haitians who could not produce gold for him.

It is now believed by many that the stories in early history books were erroneous and that Columbus did not discover the New World as the Native Americans were already here. In some locations in the U.S. Columbus Day has been changed to Indigenous People's day to honor the Native Americans who were wiped out because the white settlers came. There is much controversy related to Christopher Columbus and some of it is not for anything that he had done, but because of who he was.

Leif Erikson statue
Leif Erikson statue

KKK's views continue to be upheld

There are those today who resort to vandalism to protest Columbus Day. A letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2018 stated that each October, in recent years, vandals had begun defacing the Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park. The letter writer, Robert G Hart said those who committed the crime might believe they were doing something honorable and did not realize they were actually copying the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. According to Hart, during the 1920s and 1930s, the Klan attempted to stop Columbus Day in the state of Oregon and almost succeeded in blocking the erection of Christopher Columbus statues in Easton PA, and also as Richmond VA. The KKK also interfered with a celebration in Nanty Glo, PA by burning a cross that is supposed to represent white Christian authority. The Klan also referred to the day as a "Papal Fraud". How ironic because the cross is supposed to represent Christ's love for all mankind.

According to The National Review, the war against Columbus Day is rooted in white supremacy and Marxism because rather than honor a Catholic explorer from the Mediterranean, the Klan wanted to celebrate someone who represented white pride They proposed naming Leif Erikson, a Norseman as the man who discovered the New World. In 1964 the United States Congress passed resolution 88-566 and President Lyndon B Johnson signed a proclamation that October 9 would be Leif Erikson Day because he was the first European to reach this continent long before Columbus. Erikson actually arrived at New Foundland which today is Canada, so while he did discover the North American land it was not actually the United States.

In 1893 Reverend J.S. MacArthur was quoted in the New York Times as saying that Columbus was "cruel and guilty of many crimes." He also referred to Spain as the "poorest and most ignorant country in Europe." This sounds as if he had more of an issue with Spaniards than he was showing compassion for the slaughter of the early Native Americans. If anyone has an issue with Christopher Columbus and the day that is celebrated in his honor, it should be because of his actions and not his ethnicity, religion, or the fact that he sailed from Spain.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cheryl E Preston


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    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      4 weeks ago from Roanoke

      Yes it is true. Thank you for reading.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      4 weeks ago

      It's so sad that people who are inherently evil always find a way to twist the facts, and we can see this throughout history. People will only be remembered because of their actions and perhaps the KKK should consider this before it's too late.. Thank you for sharing this informative article Cheryl.


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