The school board of Randolph Township in Morris County, New Jersey, unanimously voted to remove holiday names from their academic calendar after an uproar over changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.
Now, holidays including Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and Jewish holy days like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will simply be listed as “day off.”
“If we don’t have anything on the calendar, we don’t have to have anyone [with] hurt feelings or anything like that,” board member Dorene Roche told Fox 5.
Another board member, Ronald Conti, reportedly said before the vote that “I don’t think really it is the board’s responsibility to be naming these holidays. Either take them off or just adopt whatever the federal and state governments are doing.”
According to reports, up to 125 people attended the board meeting to oppose the Columbus Day change, but the board approved it unanimously last month.
It was also reported that Republican state Sen. Anthony Bucco attended the meeting and spoke out against the change, while three members of the public spoke in favor of the change despite being outnumbered by supporters of keeping Columbus Day.
The vote to take away holiday names from the calendar apparently caused confusion. Some attendees reportedly yelling, “What happened? What did you just do?” at board members.
The backlash was similar to what New York City’s Education Department faced earlier this year when it abruptly announced Columbus Day — celebrated on the second Monday of October — would be celebrated as Indigenous People’s Day. After an uproar from Italian-American groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced schools would be closed Oct. 11 to mark “Italian Heritage Day/Indigenous People’s Day.”
Dozens of cities and jurisdictions across the US have ditched Columbus Day in favor of honoring Native Americans after the emergence of scholarship highlighting the Genoa-born explorer’s cruelty to indigenous populations.