Columbus Day

The IAOVC is supporting UNICO National in their campaign against the National Education Association’s attempt to minimize Columbus Day. The National Education Association is encouraging its members to urge their school districts to celebrate the 2nd Monday of October as El Dia de la Raza and Indigenous People’s Day. They expect to spend$ 57,500 to do this!

This was submitted at their business meeting by 50 delegates.

It appears to us that NEA chose this date in order to diminish the accomplishments and the impact Columbus’ voyages had on the world. We need to address this issue strongly, intelligently and above all please be polite!

ONE VOICE has made New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell, Co-Chair of the Italian American Congressional Delegation aware of this situation. Lou Barletta, U.S. Congressman, former Mayor of Hazleton was also notified.

After reading UNICO National President Dominick Nicastro’s letter we hope you will join us by contacting the NEA and their state affiliates. We would appreciate if you would encourage your membership to do the same.

Lily Eskelson Garcia

August 30, 2016

NEA 1201 16th Street
Washington DC 20036

Dear Ms. Garcia:

As President of UNICO National, the largest Italian American Charitable and Service Organization in America, I must object to the NEA’s recent announcement of its intent to endorse the second Monday of October as El Dia de la Razza and Indigenous Peoples Day.  Presently, the day is identified as Columbus Day, which the Italian American community recognizes as a day to celebrate its rich heritage and contributions to the world.

We realize that Columbus has been much maligned and that revisionist historians are now unjustly blaming his accomplishments for practically all the evils of the world.  It appears that the NEA supports the negative revisionist history with its present position.

Over 95 years ago, UNICO National was founded to overcome negative stereotypes of Italian Americans and to combat the prevailing prejudices.  Our progenitors and all who have followed have chosen to serve our communities by donating time, talent and money to numerous worthwhile causes.  In the process of time we have contributed hundreds of millions for national and local scholarships; mental health programs; cancer research; food banks; disaster relief; and many local projects.  We have not and do not discriminate as to who benefits from our grants.

Contrary to UNICO National’s goals and ideals, the NEA appears to be adopting a policy of favoring one group over another.  While the NEA seems to endeavor to bring notice to Hispanic and Native American causes by its adopted position, it does so by minimizing and ignoring the contributions of millions of Italian Americans whose struggle has been no less hazardous than the groups favored by the NEA.  Italian Americans have endured prejudices, insults and lynching in their struggle to assimilate in this continent. We are not less deserving of recognition.

By rallying to eliminate recognition of Columbus Day, the NEA ignores the enormous contributions of Italian Americans in numerous areas such as art, science, finance, law, government, anthropology, architecture, aeronautics, space exploration, music, radio, cinema, fashion design, automobile design, culinary choices, literature and education, to name some areas that impact us daily.

Prior to finalizing your organization’s position, UNICO National requests a dialogue to discuss the NEA’s position and welcomes your establishment of a time and place, public or private, to express our thoughts, beliefs and feelings to the NEA.  We ask for the opportunity to be heard and creation of a forum for other organizations to contribute their thoughts on the subject.

We ask that we not be ignored regarding our request and that our position be considered.  We expect that as educators and influencers of young minds you would welcome a review of diverse ideas and points of view before enacting a final position.

Sincerely yours,
Dominick Nicastro
UNICO National President


National Education Association (NEA)
President Lily Eskelsen …
NEA 1201 16th Street N.W., Washington, DC 20036
202 833 -4000
New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) E-Mail Contacts
President Wendell Steinhauer
NJEA 180 West State Street, PO Box 1211, Trenton, NJ 08607-1211 609 599-4561

If you need the mail address and E-Mail for your state, contact me at

Thank you,
Manny Alfano