The conservative town of Huntington Beach, California has decided to axe various month-long celebrations for different identity groups, including “Pride Month” and “Black History Month.”
In a recent vote, the town’s council decided to move towards celebrations that highlight the city’s history. This would include the discovery of oil in the area, as well as the town’s founding.
The new program is set to take off in 2024, at which point the community history celebrations will replace months dedicated to specific identity groups. This includes Pride Month, Women’s History Month, Black History Month and numerous additional celebrations that focus on specific groups.
Councilmember Casey McKeon stressed that the changes are geared towards unity for the whole community and making residents aware of the city’s history. Lack of public knowledge about the city’s history pushed officials to create a program “designed to honor the rich, historic heritage of not only Huntington Beach, but the United States and California as well.”
“That’s the rich, historic heritage that we all share,” McKeon said.
The City Council voted 4-3 on Tuesday night to approve the new 12-month calendar. The item states that the new Huntington Beach celebrations are intended to be “free of any identity politics and political agendas.”
“Myself, as a third-generation Huntington Beach resident, I’ve just been amazed to learn how much of our rich history that I was unaware of, and I can only imagine that the majority of our residents are unaware of as well,” McKeon said. “That was essentially the genesis for this calendar of historically themed months … the monthly celebrations [now] are fragmented, inconsistent and relatively unorganized within the departments.”
Others disagreed with the new direction, including council member Dan Kalmick.
“This is not public policy,” he said. “This is an Eagle Scout project. This is what we all learned in fourth grade and 10th grade and 11th grade. I do apologize if you didn’t know some of these things; a lot of folks in town do … So, February of 2024 we’re not going to celebrate Black History Month. Why not?”
McKeon stated that the previous themes could be re-added in the future and emphasized that the new guidelines are meant to bring the community together. “This is meant to be a fun exercise that brings the community together,” he said. “You’re totally over-complicating it.”