How many of you remember a popular rhyme which children learned in the first years of school which went something like this: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue?”

The saying, which for decades held a prominent place within the canon of recitations that were memorized by every child during their primary grades, served as an integral part of America’s myth behind our nation’s origins. It essentially posited the “historical fact” that North America – specifically the United States, owed its “discovery” to the ingenuity of the Italian explorer – the first reported European to land on our shores after traveling the Atlantic Ocean with his crew on three ships: the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa María.

And so, Columbus would soon be lauded as the man who ushered in a new era in human history with statues later erected in his honor and even a national holiday designated to mark his accomplishments.
Ironically, historians, either through human error or by design, would fail to note that North America had previously been “discovered” by someone else – people of whom we today refer as Native Americans. Perhaps they failed to make U.S. history books because their skin color did not meet the more “preferred” global standard from yesteryear: “white.”

Still, history, by its definition, must not only provide an undisputed record and analysis of past events, but must also be flexible enough to allow for updates or revisions upon the discovery of new details or additional events that further clarify or expand narratives. Fortunately, many more Americans recognize the necessity of reporting and repeating history, which is undergirded by facts rather than myths, especially those that have since been proven to be false.

Perhaps that’s why Columbus Day, in recent years, has given way in a growing number of U.S. cities, counties and states to Indigenous Peoples’ Day – a counter-celebration which honors Native Americans and commemorates their histories and cultures, still observed on the second Monday of October. Nonetheless, Columbus Day remains a federal holiday, further perpetuating a myth that no longer bears any resemblance to the truth.

In holding fast to this narrative which seems to affirm white supremacy, Donald Trump shared his thoughts on Monday, Oct. 12, railing against those who would dispute the myth of Columbus as “radical activists” and “extremists.”

“Rather than learn from our history, this radical ideology and its adherents seek to revise it, deprive it of any splendor and mark it as inherently sinister,” Trump said.

The Washington Informer finds his summation to be disheartening which further contributes to the disavowal of America’s history that has been shaped due to our uniquely diverse population of citizens. Further, we disagree with the president’s assertion that by adhering to the truth, such Americans are willingly “spreading hate and division.”

Here’s the history lesson for today: Columbus did “not” discover America.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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