Both San Antonio City Council and Bexar County Commissioners have removed Christopher Columbus from the calendar, changing October 12, from 'Columbus Day' to 'Indigenous People's Day,' and now City Council is being urged to go one step further.

  1200 WOAI News has learned that a petition is being circulated by the Texas Indigenous Council seeking to rename Columbus Park on the northwest edge of downtown, and remove the statue of the 15th Century Italian born explorer that has stood in the park since the 1950s.

  Antonio Diaz, a spokesman for the council, tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that Columbus is not the sort of person who deserves to be celebrated in the 21st Century.

  "What he brought was slavery," Diaz said.  "Not just slavery among the indigenous peoples who were living here, but he imported African slaves to this continent as well."

  Even though Columbus Park is associated with the Christopher Columbus Italian Society, and sits in front of Piazza Italia, it is a city park.  The statue of Columbus that stands in the park was donated by the Italian Society in 1957.

  And Diaz says he has stood there long enough.  He says people should not be forced to see a monument to the father of slavery in the Americas when they go to a public park.

  "Even by his own writings, what he wrote,  his objective for the indigenous peoples was slavery," he said.  "In the 21st Century, that is not what we should be supporting."

  Most modern scholars agree that Columbus is hardly worthy of the acclamation he began to receive in 1892, when the 400th birthday of his voyage was celebrated with proclamations and a major world's fair in Chicago.

  Not only did Columbus, in the words of one historian, 'gleefully' enslave and massacre tens of thousands of the Native American people he encountered, he was actually arrested by the Spanish crown and returned to Spain in chains for corruption and for his inability to get along with other Spanish officials.

  Columbus, who was, of course, Italian by birth, has been blamed for what is called the 'Black Legend,' the myth that Spanish colonialism was more vicious, more cruel, and more damaging than the colonialism practiced by other Europeans in the New World.

  Diaz says historians now agree that Columbus was not even the first European to visit and build structures in the Americas.  He was preceded by four centuries by the Vikings, who landed in what is now Canada in the eleventh century.

  And he says Columbus, to the end of his life, actually believed he had sailed to Asia.

  "He thought he was in the Indies, that's why we're called Indians," he said.

  Diaz says there is no suggestion yet on what the park should be renamed.  He says the Council hopes to have the petition completed and delivered to City Council by next spring's municipal elections.