There’s been a lot of conversations in recent years concerning the topic of Columbus Day. And for good reason. Its origins, and the man at the center of it all, is problematic at best.
It’s hard to argue that Columbus’s discovery of the Americas was not a significant achievement. He was, after all, the first European to cross the Atlantic and make landfall in the New World.
On the other hand, it’s hard to argue for the celebration of a man who didn’t really discover anything, but instead brought colonization, disease, and chaos to a land that was technically already found.
But because the winners generally write history, Columbus has been painted as the story’s hero for hundreds of years, memorialized in paintings, statues, elementary school lessons, and ultimately, a national holiday.
But his star seems to be dimming.
As of October 8, 2021, President Biden became the first president to commemorate Indigenous People’s Day – and it feels long overdue. Especially considering some states (Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Main, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Vermont) and individual cities (Denver, Austin, San Francisco) have been doing this for years.
It feels like a step in the right direction, but begs the question: Why did it take so long? As we continue to grapple with the problematic aspects of our history, why do you think there is so much resistance to reconsider who and what we celebrate? What does that say about us as a country? Do we honestly believe our nation will suffer if we no longer honor Christopher Columbus on the second Monday of October? Or are we afraid that if one holiday can be tampered with, all the others are at risk?
Click here to read President Biden’s full statement.