Santa Barbara City College Board Reinstates Pledge of Allegiance Amid Backlash

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Steve Helber/AP

President of the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees, Robert Miller, has decided to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings, amid backlash for his decision to ban the pledge after claiming it is racist and in violation of the constitution.

Miller announced last week that he had decided to discontinue the Pledge of Allegiance at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) board meetings, on the grounds that he believes the pledge is racist, as well as in violation of the First Amendment.

“I decided to discontinue use of the Pledge of Allegiance for reasons related to its history and symbolism,” said Miller in an email, “I have discovered that the Pledge of Allegiance has a history steeped in expressions of nativism and white nationalism.”

“I also object to the phrase ‘one nation under God,'” continued Miller, “The First Amendment not only protects freedom of speech and religion [but] it also expressly prohibits laws that establish religion.”

Miller’s decision caused backlash, and one professor, Celeste Barber, attended a January 24 Board meeting to speak out against the pledge ban. As Barber addressed the Board, she was interrupted and mocked by students, who so happened to be present at the meeting to protest a separate issue.

In response to the fallout, Miller has decided to forgo his anti-pledge resolution, but the Board president did, however, note that his decision to ban the Pledge of Allegiance may be revisited in the future.

“Effective immediately, the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited at Board of Trustee meetings until some future date when the matter may be considered by the Board,” announced Miller, via the SBCC Board of Trustees on Tuesday.

“While the College recognizes that there are different opinions about the Pledge of Allegiance, it expects that the First Amendment rights of members of the public to comment at board meetings will be respected,” continued the statement.

“It is inconsistent with those rights for other audience members to interrupt and mock speakers on this topic, as happened at the January 24 Board meeting,” added Miller, referring to professor Barber, who recited the Pledge of Allegiance at the Board meeting, while being mocked by students to the point of tears.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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