Controversial School Holiday Renamed by Beacon City School Board
The Beacon City School District has renamed a holiday, erasing the name of a controversial historical figure from its calendar.
On Monday the Beacon School Board voted on a resolution to eliminate Columbus Day from the calendar and replace it with a new name. The vote came after a special committee was formed to seek comments from the community and suggest a new description of the holiday.
Before launching into the controversial debate, the board joked about a suggestion to change the holiday to "smelly sock day." Quickly, the conversation became much more serious as board member Kristan Flynn presented a motion to change Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples Day / Italian Heritage Day".
Beacon School Board President Meredith Heuer acknowledged that the topic was a "hard thing to talk about" and stressed that the change would purely be how the holiday is described on the district calendar and have no further impact than that.
As the board members debated the motion, Flynn said she understood that the "heart of the argument" to preserve Columbus Day comes from Italian members of the community who believe the day celebrates their immigrant roots and contributions to America. While Flynn agreed that Italians should be proud of their heritage, she also said that we must acknowledge that while most of us came from someplace else, America was not discovered.
Flynn said the country was "taken from people who were living here before most of us came here" and it's just not acceptable to celebrate the beginning of that process. She added that America belongs to the Indigenous People who were here first, explaining that it "was and continues to be their country."
Board member Anthony White suggested erasing the names of all the holidays on the calendar, simply referring to them as "holidays". That motion was not seconded, and neither was another suggestion to call the holiday "Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day".
In the end, the board voted to eliminate Columbus Day from the calendar and replace it with "Indigenous Peoples Day / Italian Heritage Day". A similar change was made by the New York City School Board.