SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A march through downtown San Antonio Monday afternoon began with a rally for human rights and equality, as well as a Four Directions Ceremony at Piazza Italia, the former Columbus Park. Gone is the statue of Christopher Columbus, which the City Council voted to remove from the park and return to the Christopher Columbus Italian Society of San Antonio. The rectangular shaped pedestal the Columbus sculpture stood on now has a logo of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department on all four sides.
“My heart’s full of joy and contentment at this point, but we still have more work to do,” said Antonio Diaz, founder of the Texas Indigenous Council.
He organized the event that marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day in San Antonio, which is observed on the second Monday in October, the same day as the federal holiday honoring Columbus. While school books teach that the Italian explorer discovered America in 1492, critics call him a slave trader and hold him responsible for the genocide of Indigenous people.
Now that the name of Columbus Park has been changed and the statue has been removed, Diaz says the fight continues to change the name of Columbus Street to Concho Street.
“We’ve been talking to city council and the mayor, and this is already on their plate,” said Diaz.
Following a rally at Piazza Italia, the Indigenous Peoples’ Dignity Day and Human Rights March headed to The Alamo for a Four Direction Ceremony and a dance at Alamo Plaza. The group of nearly 100 also stopped at the Bexar County Courthouse, San Fernando Cathedral and City Hall.
“We go through all the systems of power within our city and county. These are the sources of our local government empowerment and disenfranchisement of our people, so we go there and spread the message of unity,” said Diaz.
He said they come together for this annual event “to honor ourselves, to honor our ancestors and to honor the coming generations. We are human beings, not less beings,” said Diaz.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day ceremonial dance at Alamo Plaza/KTSA Photo-Elizabeth Ruiz