The new president of San Francisco’s school board has opted out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings, choosing to read something else instead.
Stevon Cook did not just decide to skip the Pledge of Allegiance, he replaced it with a quote from the poet Maya Angelou: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Cook, who was elected to lead the board in the wake of former President Hydra Mendoza’s departure two weeks ago, purposely omitted the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the San Francisco school board’s meeting Tuesday night, choosing to read the Angelou quote instead.
“There are a lot of ways to express gratitude and appreciation for the country and its citizens,” Cook said Wednesday, noting his plan to read quotes from influential Americans before each meeting. “This is how I plan to do that.”
“Although there is a requirement that schools conduct a pledge or similar activity, there is no such requirement for school boards,” district spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said.
Cook told The Chronicle that he sees the political climate as disappointing and said the Trump administration “has been attacking our liberties.”
He also believes most people do not know or understand the historical context for the pledge.
“If you ask 10 Americans who wrote it, or when it was implemented, or why it is how we start our meetings, a lot of us would be hard pressed (to answer),” Cook said.
Written in 1892 by Christian socialist minister, Francis Bellamy, The Pledge of Allegiance was given the additional words “under God” by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954 due to the rise of communism.
School board member Rachel Norton was impressed with Cook’s plan, though she admitted she did not realize at first that he had not called for the pledge to be recited.
“It feels respectful and it feels thoughtful,” she told the Chronicle. “Maya Angelou is an alumnus of (San Francisco’s) Washington High School, so who better to start a new tradition?”
Cook insists the move is not an act of protest, saying “I’m no Colin Kaepernick,” referring to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sparked national controversy in 2016 after kneeling during the national anthem before National Football League games.
“I’m not doing it as a way to seek attention,” he said, noting that the words of inspirational Americans can express values like inclusion and social justice.
“I really think that these people are a great testament to our values and who we should aspire to be as Americans,” he said.
But while his school board colleagues may not have objected to the break from protocol, others found Cook’s decision simply “disgraceful.”
Then maybe he should go to another country worthy of his loyalty. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. revered the flag, pledge and anthem of the United States. He was grateful for the opportunities, freedom and liberty here. Maybe he should go back to school. #MAGA ?? pic.twitter.com/oa83YuEHzv
— Montgomery Granger (@mjgranger1) October 11, 2018
Not a good example for our children to follow! Disgraceful!!
— John Blozik (@BlozikJohn) October 11, 2018
If you wonder why things go wrong or why people take knees, it’s because of dipsticks like this board president who don’t understand patriotism!
— Edwin Leal (@edwinleal9) October 11, 2018
Read the article. This guy is just another Trump hater. I can guarantee you that the children in this district will suffer from the decisions made by this school board. If the board had any backbone they would vote to overrule him.
— Warren Diesel (@WarrenDiesel2) October 11, 2018
I don’t care if he is the school board director….REMOVE HIM….not….the Pledge of Allegiance. If the parents put up with this….shame on them!
— Dawn Lightsey (@DawnsKiss) October 11, 2018
Spartacus is that You?
— Bernard Theriault (@BernardTheriau1) October 11, 2018
Does this really shock anyone? Look at the city of San Francisco, what Democrats did to this city. The streets are a toilet bowl for thousands of homeless people. Stoping the pledge Allegiance make alot of sense to a city that has no sense…..
— Jojo (@jojo32674) October 11, 2018
Ahh….@NancyPelosi I see your district is hard at work promoting anything anti-American, as usual.
— Sara (@backfifty_sara) October 11, 2018
Disgraceful message to send young people. More degradation and indoctrination. One person deciding how many will live. Parents should be outraged.
— Bob Judware (@JudwareBob) October 11, 2018
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