Former professor Celeste Barber’s efforts to keep the Pledge of Allegiance as part of Santa Barbara Community College’s board of trustees meetings paid off on Thursday when it reinstated the tradition.
Almost 100 people cheered and recited it.
Barber, a former English teacher at the California school, asked in July that the Pledge be put back on the agenda after noticing it was missing from the board’s public minutes. Barber expressed her concerns to board President Robert Miller, who told her in an email response that he dropped the Pledge because it has a “history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism” and “bigotry.”
Barber gave a public response at a board meeting in January where she spoke about the Pledge’s role in American civic life and recited the Pledge while holding a small American flag.
“I’m here to speak about the board president’s decision to discontinue the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at trustees public meetings,” Barbara said in January, as some protesters mocked her.
“When you recite the Pledge of Allegiance you are recommitting your oath to uphold and defend our country’s Constitution,” Barber said.
The board passed a resolution at Thursday’s meeting permanently reinstating the pledge, and more than 60 people expressed their support for the move in public comments.
“The agenda of the Governing Board of Santa Barbara City College District will include recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance unless and until a majority of the board determine otherwise,” Miller said.
The board heard nearly three hours of public testimony, including that of a veteran who said he and others fought for the flag and what it stands for, an immigrant who is now a U.S. citizen, and an African American woman who said racism is an overused term.
“We live in a society where the word racist is used for everything,” she said.
But protesters also spoke, saying racism is an ongoing problem on campus.
“So you’re going to do this today with all this racism we’re talking about?” a woman asked as a small group cheered her.
The vast majority of public speakers supported reinstating the Pledge. Both the Santa Barbara Tea Party and Fair Education Santa Barbara backed Barber’s campaign.
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