San Francisco official skips Pledge of Allegiance at meeting, recites Maya Angelou quote
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The newly-elected president of the San Francisco school board skipped the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of his first meeting.

Stevon Cook instead opened the meeting by quoting poet and author Maya Angelou: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”

“There are a lot of ways to express gratitude and appreciation for the country and its citizens,” Cook told the San Francisco Gate of his decision. “This is how I plan to do that.”

The move broke with precedent, but does not appear to have violated any procedural rules about public meetings. The California education code mandates that schools conduct a daily patriotic exercise, according to The Gate, but students are not required to participate, and it is rarely enforced.


Cook told The Gate that before becoming president, he would stand for the pledge at school board meetings, but did not recite it.

“We should stand … because those ideals are important to me,” Cook said. “To speak them is another thing.”

He also tied his decision to skip the pledge to the current political climate, taking a hit at President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE, who he said “has been attacking our liberties.”

Cook said that he will select other quotes from prominent Americans for future meetings, naming author Toni Morrison and gay rights icon and former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk.

“I'm not doing it as a way to seek attention,” Cook said. “I really think that these people are a great testament to our values and who we should aspire to be as Americans.”

Cook’s new tradition comes amid national debate on patriotism, sparked by NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick’s protest of racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.

But Cook quickly shut down potential comparisons, telling The Gate: “I’m no Colin Kaepernick. I’m Stevon Cook.”