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Hamilton County May Ask Departments Still Celebrating Columbus Day To Stop

columbus statue
Farnoush Amiri
The city of Columbus didn't celebrate Columbus day in 2018. The city is also now considering removing a statue of its namesake, shown Thursday, July 16, 2020, outside the Ohio Statehouse.

Hamilton County doesn't formally recognize Columbus Day with a paid holiday on the second Monday in October. However, some collective bargaining units and some of the courts do.

Hamilton County Commission Vice President Stephanie Summerow Dumas says she wants to open a dialogue with those groups about ending the practice.

"Columbus, Ohio, which was named for Columbus ... has already officially stopped the observance of that holiday," says Summerow Dumas. "I'd like to see us do the same."

A county spokesperson says the county stopped the practice of recognizing Columbus Day with a paid holiday a while back. County employees do receive a paid holiday on the day after Thanksgiving, but the county doesn't view that as a swap. Some collective bargaining units and some of the courts observe Columbus Day on the second Monday in October with a paid holiday as well.

In 2018, Cincinnati City Council passed a resolutionrecognizing Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day.

"Expressing the City of Cincinnati's support for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of indigenous people of this land, and to celebrate the thriving culture and value that all indigenous people add to our City; and URGING other businesses, organizations and public entities to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day," the resolution reads.

It also recognizes "the annexation of indigenous homelands for the building of our City ... and values the progress our society has accomplished through American Indian technology, thought, and culture..."

When laying out her request, Summerow Dumas reiterated her desire for the county to recognize another holiday with a paid day off.

"I'm wondering if we can add on Juneteenth on June 19 as a holiday," Summerow Dumas says.

Juneteenth is the nationwide commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Earlier this year, Summerow Dumas led the county's effort to recognize Juneteenth with a proclamation. She acknowledged local companies that were recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday, and she encouraged others to follow suit. She also said she wants to see more companies observing the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

"I'd like to put out a challenge to our Hamilton County companies, agencies, businesses... for Martin Luther King Day ... that you pledge to observe that day. And I'd like to hear from those companies that are agreeing to do that."

Additionally, she encourages those companies and businesses to consider how they might recognize Juneteenth next year when it will fall on a Saturday.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.