Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of two books of poetry, The Ground and Heaven, as well as an essay collection, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness.
Whether you celebrate Columbus Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Discoverers’ Day, or Native Americans’ Day, historian William J. Connell observes that, in the end, this controversial civic holiday is just that: a holiday. In his essay “What Columbus Day Really Means,” Connell writes that President Benjamin Harrison created the holiday in 1892 to honor both Native Americans and the many immigrants who were only then arriving in the country. “It was to be a national holiday that was not about the Founding Fathers or the Civil War, but about the rest of American history,” Connell writes—a day for celebrating the country and all its people. Sounds to us like a pretty good reason to take the day off of work.