Stevon Young, the new president of the San Francisco School Board, abandoned the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the board’s monthly meeting last week, instead opting to recite a quote from poet May Angelou.
Cook said he skipped the patriotic pledge at a time when the Trump administration “has been attacking our liberties,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
After roll was taken at the meeting, Cook read an excerpt from an Angelou poem: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
Cook later said he broke tradition because few people know where the Pledge of Allegiance came from, anyway. “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, he said.
(In case you’re wondering, the Pledge was penned by a socialist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892. President Eisenhower in 1954 asked Congress to include the words, “under God” as the fear of atheistic communism spread.)
Cook said the decision was personal. “We should stand for [the pledge] because those ideals are important to me,” he said. “To speak them is another thing. …There are a lot of ways to express gratitude and appreciation for the country and its citizens,” said Cook. “This is how I plan to do that.”
“Cook said he plans to select quotes or the writings of a range of inspirational Americans, including writer Toni Morrison, gay rights icon Harvey Milk and novelist James Baldwin,” the Chronicle wrote.
Cook claimed he was not snubbing the Pledge for press (although the move garnered much from the liberal media).
“I’m not doing it as a way to seek attention,” he said. “I really think that these people are a great testament to our values and who we should aspire to be as Americans.”
“I’m no Colin Kaepernick,” he said, referring to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who knelt during the national anthem before NFL games in 2016, setting off a trend.
“I’m Stevon Cook.”