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Thanksgiving ‘myth’? Universities ask whether Americans should ‘reconsider’ holiday as ‘Day of Mourning’

Several American universities are participating in an event asking whether Americans should “reconsider” the Thanksgiving holiday.

The alumni associations of the University of Maryland, Florida Gulf Coast University, Washington State University, University of Central Arkansas, Hiram College in Ohio and California State University, Long Beach are participating.

According to the event description, the recent national shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day “reflects a changing national mood,” and asks if Americans should do the same with Thanksgiving.

“Starting in 1970, many Americans, led by Indigenous protesters, believed that Thanksgiving should be rededicated as a National Day of Mourning to reflect the centuries-long displacement and persecution of Native Americans. The recent shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day reflects a changing national mood,” the event description states. “Should Americans reconsider Thanksgiving when wrestling with our country’s complicated past?”

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“The myth of Thanksgiving is powerful and ubiquitous. In the autumn of 1621, so American legend has it, English Pilgrims seeking religious freedom shared a feast with Wampanoags, the residents of the territory the Pilgrims labeled Plymouth,” the event description adds. “The good feelings of that meal soon faded when Native peoples and English colonists, including the Pilgrims, began to compete for resources, initiating conflicts that raged for generations. Yet despite the often-violent relations between the nation and Indigenous communities, the myth of coexistence remained.”

The event’s speaker, Peter C. Mancall, a professor at the University of Southern California, told Fox News that his goal for the event is to “explain the context for events and offer insights about how to interpret the existing evidence.”

“I respect my audience’s ability to draw their own conclusions about the material,” he said.

Pedestrians walk across the Chapel Lawn at The University of Maryland College Park on Thursday October 20, 2016. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Pedestrians walk across the Chapel Lawn at The University of Maryland College Park on Thursday October 20, 2016. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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A spokesperson for the University of Maryland said that the alumni association has a contract with the Alumni Learning Consortium, which hosts the event. A spokesperson for California State University, Long Beach also said that university pays to participate in the Alumni Learning Consortium.

A spokesperson for Florida Gulf Coast University said that the university’s alumni association pays $2,500 to Professional Book Club Guru, which also provides access to the event. A spokesperson for Hiram College in Ohio said the college also pays for events through the Professional Book Club Guru.

This March 12, 2019, file photo shows the University Village area of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 

This March 12, 2019, file photo shows the University Village area of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

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The Alumni Learning Consortium is managed by the Professional Book Club Guru, which states that its mission is to “help alumni associations create more and higher quality online programs to drive engagement.”

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