Growing up in Spokane, a town that is named for tribe of Native Americans that once lived here, how had I never been exposed to any questioning of the legitimacy of such a holiday? I'm sure there were some small groups protesting, but I was sheltered from it by teachers (maybe with an agenda pushed by others?) and a city sorely lacking diversity. Shortly after, many schools stopped treating Columbus Day as a no work, no school holiday.
As I grew up, I realized that holidays are generally only for those in privileged jobs anyways (is Starbucks ever closed?), and once I really thought about the cultural implications of honoring a man that may have helped bring the current majority to this land, but at the cost of violently displacing its inhabitants, I understood where the protesters were coming from and was happy to no longer honor the day by being waited on by people who still had to work (some years, I was one of those people who had to work).
I know a lot of people are bothered any sort of criticism of cultural traditions (ie "just leave Thanksgiving alone" and "let bygones be by gone"). ButI think those conversations are important and the necessary next step in addressing the insidiousness of racism. And although I understand the argument for not taking Columbus day off, taking a day off for a holidays can help shape the cultural literacy of a population if we take them off for the right reasons: to raise awareness (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) or take a moment out for a group of people that often gets overlooked (Vetran's Day). Both of these holidays encourage thoughtful discussion in schools and in the media.
This is why I was happy to hear, listening to NPR (what a teacher, sheesh) on my way home from work, that Seattle will no longer celebrate Columbus Day; it will be replaced by Indigenous People's Day. And there are various movements calling for a transformation of the oft-celebrated holiday. I hope that more cities will follow suit.