OPINION: Stop Celebrating Columbus Day in Schools

In recent years, the debate surrounding Columbus Day has come to the forefront as growing awareness about the negative impacts of the historic figure have shed light on why celebrating this national holiday might not be such a wise idea. This is especially true when it comes to our education system. While commemorative events and holidays can provide valuable learning opportunities for students, in the case of Columbus Day, continuing to celebrate it in schools perpetuates a harmful historical legacy that negatively impacts our society today.

First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that exploring the complexities of historical figures is a crucial aspect of education. However, there is a stark difference between open discussions of these controversial pasts and outrightly celebrating them. In the case of Christopher Columbus, celebrating him as a heroic figure who made great strides for humanity presents an inaccurate narrative that bears significant consequences.

The consequences relate to the seemingly innocuous foundations upon which America was built. By venerating Columbus’ “discovery” of America, we dismiss the truth that he never actually stepped foot onto what is now mainland United States. Instead, he merely stumbled upon and subsequently colonized Indigenous lands in North America, South America, and throughout the Caribbean.

Columbus Day lends an unwarranted legitimacy to acts of violence and subjugation carried out by Christopher Columbus and his crew against Indigenous peoples. His so-called “discovery” eventuated in widespread enslavement and massacre alongside devastating outcomes from colonization efforts. This dark history remains interconnected with pressing social issues faced by Indigenous people today.

Moreover, the celebration of Columbus aboard an inaccurate narrative only contributes to perpetuating Eurocentric perspectives on history. We must strive for more critical and honest teaching approaches instead—one that includes various perspectives from diverse cultures that make up our country’s cultural tapestry.

By ceasing to celebrate Columbus Day in schools, educators have an opportunity to engage students in a more nuanced understanding of history—one that incorporates the tangled, troubling past that shaped our modern world. To replace Columbus Day, many individuals and educators advocate for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This alternative would provide students opportunities to learn about Indigenous histories and cultures that have been historically marginalized or erased.

In conclusion, it is time to reevaluate our school curriculums and put an end to celebrating Columbus Day throughout our educational system. Acknowledging the atrocities committed, reframing our understanding of history, and offering space for a broader range of perspectives can lead to a more compassionate and enlightened society for all.

Choose your Reaction!