Columbus Day marks the annual remembrance of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to open east-west trade routes. Governmental offices at the federal, state and local levels will be closed but Michigan’s business community typically ignores the holiday. But one thing that cannot be ignored is the diversity behind the voyage’s success is often overlooked.
Arranging for the voyage was a long process for Columbus as he tried to find funding in Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The journey was planned by a committee in Lisbon, Portugal. Led by Joseph Diego Mendes Vezinho, a Jewish scientist that later converted to Christianity, a nautical plan was developed using newly created star charts and maps developed by Muslim navigators.
Man other cultures helped with the trip. Columbus sought finances from several sources eventually finding success with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. They did not agree to fund the trip until Luis de Santangel developed a successful plan. King Ferdinand had ordered all Jews and Muslims convert to Catholicism or leave Spanish soil.
Santangel, a Jew, converted under this decree. He compiled the funds using an endowment, uncollected penalties owed by the City of Palos, and his own personal funds. The monarchy agreed as it involved little of their own money.
With the plan, maps, and funds in hand, Columbus still needed a hand with the navigation. The most expert of all navigators at the time were the Muslim people. Ibn Battutah had invented the sextant in the prior century, which had proved to be extremely successful in all forms of navigation. Its use by the Muslim navigators gave Columbus the tool and knowledge of its use to stay on course for his journey.
The synergy of cultures and people that made the initial trade journey to North America possible is a viable force today that opens doors to success of equal impact to Columbus’s historical trip. As nations and religions came together then, nations and religions are coming together today to provide successes in health care, industry, technology, and many other vital areas.
© Max Impact, used with permission.
Additional Diversity Resources
- Culture Bridges are a look at the contents of the character within each of us. Information is contained on more than 20 different categories of culture.
- Cultural Faux Pas is an interesting quiz about marketing mistakes made by others.
- Culture Quizzes allow you to test your cultural IQ with fun and informative quizzes.
Diversity by the numbers