Colorado passed legislation Tuesday to replace Columbus Day with Cabrini Day because bill sponsors say it doesn’t represent their community members.
The first Monday of October will now honor Frances Xavier Cabrini, who according to the bill, is the woman responsible for creating 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages in the United States and South and Central America throughout her lifetime.
Sen. Chris Hansen, one of the bill’s sponsors, told CNN that Cabrini is a local Colorado hero because of the work that she did. Chicago and New York join Colorado in honoring Cabrini with a shrine dedicated to her, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, another one of the bill’s sponsors, told CNN.
“We need holidays to recognize the contributions of women across history,” Hansen said.
Benavidez said Cabrini Day would be the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman in the US. There are some holidays dedicated to other prominent women throughout history like Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony, but those are days of recognition, not paid state holidays, according to Benavidez.
Columbus Day marks Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America, landing in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. It became a legal federal holiday in 1971. A year later, the first Columbus Day celebration was held marking the anniversary of Columbus’ landing.
In recent years, several states and even cities have stopped observing the holiday altogether after a growing movement to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize the native populations who were displaced after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent.
Historians largely agree that he did not “discover” the Americas because people were already there, nor was he the first European to reach the “New World.”
The bill will take effect no later than the beginning of August after it is signed by the governor, Benavidez said. Legislation for this particular bill started in 2007.
“This truly is this decade’s long effort by so many people,” Benavidez said.”There have been so many negotiations, groups of people over the years that never gave up, this is so important to the communities that are impacted by this.”
The transition from commemorating Columbus to Cabrini is a step forward Benavidez said.
“The pain that they (indigenous people) endure and the historical trauma endured by indigenous people in this country as a result of what Columbus has put in place is real,” she said. “And this is a step forward in erasing that pain.”
CNN’s AJ Willingham, Marilia Brocchetto and journalist Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report