NEW YORK — Despite increased controversy surrounding the celebration of Columbus Day, the legacy of Christopher Columbus still has a place in the hearts of a majority of Americans.
The Marist Poll, a university-affiliated polling entity based out of New York, recently surveyed over 1,200 American adults, finding that nearly six in ten (57 percent) believed Columbus Day is a “good idea.”
Conversely, only 29 percent of respondents indicated significant opposition to the holiday.
Seventy-six percent of respondents said that Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of their time, as opposed to those of present day — a sentiment with which only about 16 percent disagreed.
A slight majority of respondents (56 percent) expressed viewing Columbus in a “favorable” or “very favorable” light, compared to only 28 percent who have a negative stance toward the explorer.
For those who identified as Catholic, support for Columbus was even higher, reaching 65 percent for both the figure himself and the holiday commemorating his discoveries.
Columbus Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1937, celebrated on the second Monday of every October.
More recently, Columbus Day has become the ire of many activists who argue that the Italian was responsible for the genocide of many groups native to the Americas. In Los Angeles, a Columbus statue was covered up with paper and fenced off outside a downtown courthouse. In Chicago’s Little Italy, red paint was splashed onto a statue and the words “mass murderer” were written on the ground next to it.
Supporters argue that Columbus created a bridge between continents, which ultimately led to the founding of the U.S. in 1492.
In lieu of Columbus Day, many American jurisdictions have begun to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, which recognizes the ancestors of Native Americans and related groups.
The poll was conducted in September 2017 among randomly selected Americans aged 18 or older.