There are a couple of posts on this blog around the event and the figure of the explorer Cristopher Columbus:
- From National Geographic for Kids, you can watch this video clip.
- Columbus is also well-known for the anecdote of the egg. Listen to this video clip to find out all about it.
Watch this six-minute CBS clip and say whether the statements below are true or false. The activity is suitable for intermediate 2 students.
1 Many people in New York know there is a statue in Columbus Circle.
2 The main problem with the place where the statue is shown is that there is no elevator.
3 More and more states in US are not celebrating the holiday any more.
4 Lief Eriksinson discovered America a few years before than Columbus.
5 Columbus never accepted he had discovered a new world.
6 Columbus's skills as a navigator are doubted today.
7 Columbus brought tobacco to Europe.
8 Columbus Day started in 1947 in US.
9 The main controversy about Columbus Day lies on the fact that Columbus didn't actually discover North America.
10 Columbus and his men killed thousands of Indians.
11 Karl Frank's suggestion for renaming the holiday is Exportation Day.
You can check the answers below and read the transcript here.
Something curious is happening above New York City’s Columbus Circle. Tourists and New Yorkers alike are rediscovering the statue that stands above it. Would you believe it? It’s Christopher Columbus.
Yeah, thank you.
I have for many New Yorker friends that they didn’t even know that the statue of Columbus is here.
Thanks to the art installation of Tasumisi.
I love what you’ve done with the place, but don’t you think you should have moved the statue off to the side?
To reach the 13 foot statue visitors climb six flights of stairs to an 800 square foot deluxe apartment in the sky. Columbus has his own flat-screen TV, views of Central Park, even hard wood floors.
The problem is that there’s no bathroom up here.
There’s no bathroom! How did you leave that out?
Tomorrow, if you are a federal employee or a school kid chances are you’ll celebrate Columbus Day, but more and more states are leaving it off the official calendar. States like Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Does Columbus deserve his own holiday?
Well, that’s a good question because, you know, he actually didn’t discover North America. He never set foot in North America and never even knew it existed and he wasn’t the first person to discover the American continent from Europe.
Lief Eriksinson made landfall in North America centuries earlier, ancest historian Laurence Bergreen, who strolled with me through New York City’s Hispanic Society. There were plenty of explorers sailing the seas in Colombus’s era.
It’s kind of like space exploration. If it hadn’t been John Glenn to be the first person to circle the world it would have been another astronaut at that time because the moment was right.
But there are no didis about Americo Vespucci and not just because it is hard to write Vespucci, you try it.
Columbus came along and with his outsized ego and his sense of destiny and his also passion for recording what he did, he put his stamp on that error.
Ironic since every school kid knows Columbus was actually looking for a route to China when La Nina, Pinta and Santamaria set sail. But even after four voyages, when many of his own shipmates were convinced that they had discovered a new world, Columbus refused to acknowledge it.
These sailors are saying, hey, this is not China, this is a whole different thing.
That’s right, that’s right. So with each voyage, you know in a sense he disproved his hypothesis but didn’t want to realize it, so with a certain sense of Quixotic , tragic heroism about his misguidedness, we now looked at it with the benefit of hindsight as the New World. He would have been astounded at his posthumous reputation, it would have made no sense to him.
Make no mistake. Columbus was a brilliant navigator who sailed across the Atlantic in five weeks, fast even by today’s standards, and with almost no loss of life on board he would introduce Europe to the potato, the pineapple, the tomato and a very bad habit.
He saw Indians walking by with burning leaves in their mouth, well, that was tobacco.
That’s not why he got his own national holiday. That happened when a US president discovered the Italian-American vote.
Columbus Day started in 1937, as recently as that by President Roosevelt, largely as a political move for a federal holiday and he wanted to incorporate the Italian-American vote in the Democratic Party.
But even a day off and spectacular discounts can’t quiet the storms that from the beginning has clouded Columbus’s legacy.
Columbus was always controversial because it was not just the political correctness or something that started in the 1970s. This goes back to his voyages, and the brutality was the main reason. Stories of the way he treated the Indians, the fact the he hemmed them up or killed them got back to Spain, even Ferdinand and Isabella, who were not really known as apostles of humanitarism, were appalled.
When the Taino Indians of Española realized that Columbus’s men were stained, they saw no way out.
They felt that their homelands and their women were being taken away by Columbus’s men and that Columbus’s men were stealing the future of their people and they responded by mass suicide. Columbus and others writes about this, thousands of Indians poisoning themselves or jumping off cliffs to their deaths because they felt they had no future left.
That’s one reason why Karl Frank Junior, an IT consultant in St Louis wants to rename the holiday.
We feel like instead of having a federal holiday that divides us, we need a federal holiday that unites us.
Frank wants to call it Exploration Day.
It would be unique as a federal holiday in a sense that it celebrates the past, and the past explorers, the thousands of them the unnamed as well as the well-named, and also what’s possible for America if we kind of put our heads together and work towards a common goal.
But before we say ‘Good-bye Columbus’ enjoy the day, that is, if you have it at all.
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