The San Francisco school board’s new president, Stevon Cook, is nixing the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings in favor of inspirational quotes that promote inclusion and social justice.

“When you learn, teach. When you get, give,” Mr. Cook quoted the late poet Maya Angelou ahead of his first meeting as school board president Tuesday night.

It was the first time in decades that the pledge hadn’t been recited after roll call, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Mr. Cook later told the paper that his omission of the pledge was intentional.

“There are a lot of ways to express gratitude and appreciation for the country and its citizens,” he said Wednesday morning. “This is how I plan to do that.”

Mr. Cook said he plans to recite quotes from a range of inspiring artists and activists, such as feminist writer Toni Morrison and gay rights icon Harvey Milk.

“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.”

Mr. Cook said the uplifting quotes are needed at a time when the Trump administration is “attacking our liberties.” He said it’s not an act of protest though, telling the Chronicle he simply wants to acknowledge that the quotes of great Americans can express U.S. values just as much as the pledge.

“I’m no Colin Kaepernick,” he said. “I’m Stevon Cook.”

© Copyright (c) 2018 News World Communications, Inc.

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