As the conversation about knocking down confederate statues continues across the country, another debate over America’s past is heating up locally.
A grassroots effort is underway in West Hartford schools to rename Columbus Day.
A group of parents and teachers are calling on the board of education to rename a national holiday.
They want Columbus Day, marking Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas, to be called "Indigenous Peoples' Day,” which is a move first adopted 26 years ago in Berkeley, CA.
“To not change the fact that we had it off or anything, but to just change the name. And they made arguments, historical argument and political argument about why we should think about doing this,” said Cheryl Greenberg, chair of the West Hartford Board of Education.
Each year the board approves the upcoming school calendar, and when the topic of renaming Columbus Day came up at the last board meeting, it was suggested to take the question to the town.
Since then more than 600 people have signed a change.org petition to support the effort.
“Lots of letters to the board of ed. We're reading every single one. We're thinking about everything,” Greenberg said.
The superintendent will have to bring two calendars to the board of education meeting next month, one with the holiday labeled "Columbus Day" and one with "Indigenous Peoples’ Day."
The board of education will vote on which one to adopt.
Students and parents seem to have mixed views on the issue.
Speaking from her position as a historian at Trinity College, Greenberg says the conversation about America’s past is being had all over the country.
“It's a little bit like the confederate statues question. Do we erase our past by taking it down? Do we honor our past by changing the narrative? How do we respond,” she said.
In 2015, West Hartford’s Board of Education voted to drop references to native American mascots at its two high schools.
The vote on renaming Columbus Day will take place on March 20.
Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.