Once observed by five different states, now only Alabama and Mississippi mark Robert E. Lee Day, which falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And it looks as if Columbus Day’s fate is headed in the same direction. More and more states have chosen to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day and some states, like Alaska and Vermont, have thrown out Columbus Day entirely.
So, what would it take for the federal observance of Columbus Day to end? It all comes down to Congress agreeing to remove the holiday, followed by the president signing off on it. The same process is used when establishing federal holidays, as seen with the recent addition of Juneteenth to the federal holiday calendar.
Acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a step in the right direction but it is just that—one step. Another is demanding that Congress take action and eliminate a holiday that glorifies atrocities against the very indigenous communities we should instead be celebrating.
It’s worth noting that Columbus Day itself is its own misguided attempt to uplift a community. President Benjamin Harrison signed the 1892 proclamation celebrating “Discovery Day” and applauding Columbus in particular just one year after anti-Italian lynchings in New Orleans led to the deaths of 11 people and strained relations with Italy. Right-wing supporters of the holiday now reimagine Columbus as the embodiment of the “American spirit,” as claimed in an article published by The Daily Citizen, Focus on the Family’s media arm.
Is Columbus Day worth observing and preserving, or is it time to replace the holiday entirely? Share your thoughts in the poll below and feel free to comment.