LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The California state legislature passed a bill removing Christopher Columbus’ name from the portion of the Interstate 10 freeway that crosses Los Angeles on Wednesday, drawing praise from Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell Thursday.
O’Farrell, the first Native American to serve on the council, said in a statement that he was “pleased and grateful” for the legislation. The measure removes the name “The Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway” from a portion of I-10, which begins in Santa Monica and runs east through the city. The legislature named the stretch of the highway in California for Columbus in 1976 to celebrate him as a “distinguished pioneer, revered by millions for his exploits.”
But Columbus also “provided the impetus for European colonization of North America,” leading to the displacement and enslavement of millions of indigenous people, according to the text of the bill.
“Proper and appropriate restitution and contrition have not been memorialized, documented or enacted,” the bill reads. “The state has a responsibility to promote and enhance safety for all residents and uplift truth, dignity and justice for all.”
O’Farrell, a citizen of the Wyandotte Nation, said the removal of Columbus’ name does not erase the sins of the past, “including the centuries of genocide of Indigenous people unleashed by Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.”
He added: “This action does, however, mark another important step in our collective journey to learn from our history, acknowledge wrongdoings and blaze a better trail, founded in the truth, as we move together into the future."