Rockaway Township School District reinstates Columbus Day following backlash from community



The Rockaway Township Board of Education reinstated Columbus Day after removing it from the school calendar.

School officials made the change at the last Education Council meeting following the community’s refusal. The board of directors previously voted to replace Columbus Day on the calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day.

“I don’t think it’s worth going to war. The idea that we would have serious arguments and fights in a local school district strikes me as pretty sad, ”says Camilla Townsend, professor of history at Rutgers University.

Townsend specializes in Native American studies. She has followed the controversy surrounding Christopher Columbus over the past few years. Many municipalities, schools and institutions withdrew the name of Christopher Columbus and removed statues, citing the treatment of Native Americans by the explorer.

The Italian-American community in New Jersey has fought against the movement, saying removing Columbus’ name and image is an attack on their history and heritage.

“That if we rename the feast of Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the interest of restoring the dignity of Indigenous peoples, white Americans, or especially Americans of Italian descent, will lose this change as we go. it will happen, ”Townsend said.

Townsend says that doesn’t have to happen, and while she believes Indigenous people should have a dedicated vacation, it doesn’t necessarily have to replace Columbus Day.

“We could have two vacations and talk about both types of history, no reason not to. I think if more people understood being more inclusive and welcoming in this country, both literally and figuratively, we would all benefit, ”she says.

The Township of Rockaway school calendar for 2022-2023 has yet to be created, so it’s unclear whether there will be a separate day to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. The only certainty is that Columbus Day will be back on the calendar next October.


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