School Board Votes to Designate October Holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

July 23, 2020

The Fairfax County School Board has voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the previously approved 2020-21 Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) school year calendar as well as the yet-to-be approved 2021-22 school year calendar. The 2021-22 calendar is scheduled to be adopted in September.

The motion to change the name—proposed by Hunter Mill District School Board member Melanie Meren— read in part, “As a community that values diversity, equity, inclusion, and history, Fairfax County Public Schools should pivot from acknowledging Columbus Day, and instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day…The land on which this nation rests had been occupied by indigenous peoples for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. Indigenous peoples have been and continue to be the victims of prejudice and systematic discrimination as a result of 500 years of oppression and violence that began with European colonization, and it extends to the systematic oppression indigenous people face today throughout the Americas.”

This shift aligns with FCPS’s Social Studies’ work to significantly revise curriculum and professional development to address the overrepresentation of white and Eurocentric history and the lack of diverse perspectives in social studies courses.