Diversity Week Begins with Columbus Panel

Chelsea Gardner  | Staff Writer

 On Monday, the African American Cultural Center, Africana Studies Program, and Multicultural Student Affairs in collaboration with various student organizations presented the MisEducation of Colombus: Columbus on Trial. In its second year, the program was held in the Washington-Sankofa Room of Witherspoon Student Center at 6 p.m. as a closing to Latino Heritage Week, and the starting program for Diversity Education Week.

At the panel, students, faculty, and staff of various race and ethnicities gathered together to discuss and review the impact of Christopher Columbus in an educational platform.

During the event, Ashley Gaie, a member of the Caribbean Student Association, presented the indictments of Columbus. The charges were murder, treason, and cultural genocide. The panelists for the discussion, Dick Reavis, Dr. Clifford Griffin, and Rosa Salvedía, were asked to give their opinions on the indictments.

Reavis, a journalism professor at N.C. State said, “The man was not a hero.” He described the cultural costs that Columbus was responsible for through the use of the Spanish military.

Salvedía, a community activist and organizer, agreed. She felt that it was important to discuss the cultural costs and tell the truth about Columbus. “It will change the future if we start talking about things as they really were,” she said. “I am here with all of those scars from those actions.”

Griffin, a political science professor at N.C. State, discussed Christopher Columbus’ depiction in American history books. “It’s a whole trajectory of misinformation,” said Griffin. However, Griffin was conflicted in deciding how he would charge Christopher Columbus. “If it weren’t for Christopher Columbus, I probably wouldn’t be here having this conversation.”

Salvedía said without hesitation, “Let’s convict him.” She told the audience that his indictments affected humanity. “This is not something to celebrate. …He didn’t do anything to promote any kind of advancement or enrichment.” She continued by saying, “The objective of Columbus was to come and to take.”

Taylor Springs, the President of the Native American Student Association, gave a testimony discussing proactivity in putting an end to culture misrepresentation. She said, “Seek wisdom, not knowledge.” To her, the purpose of this program was to gain wisdom and cultural competence. In addition to the panel, an 18-minute satirical video was shown depicting Christopher Columbus in present-day court. The video mostly discussed the violence of Columbus and the Spaniards. It stirred many different reactions based on the comedy and content.

Derek Oxendine, Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, challenged the audience to continue to reflect and discuss how Columbus affected them. Sophomore Lea Rhynehardt said, “I never took the time to actually think about what Columbus did. I found the program to be very informative. …It was great.”

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