NATIONAL CLIPS: Oct. 6

BOULDER, Colo.: Students walk out protesting pledge

Objecting to the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, over 100 students at Boulder High School walked out Sept. 27 and read their own pledge. “We don’t object to pledging to our country,” said Ashley Guesman, 17, “but we do object to pledging to a religion.”

Students said their own pledge: “I pledge allegiance to the flag and my constitutional rights with which it comes. And to the diversity with which our nation stands. One nation, part of one planet, with liberty, freedom, choice and justice for all.”

Boulder High broadcasts the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in accordance with state law. Students want that discontinued or replaced by an alternative. If no change occurs, they are planning another action.

Principal Bud Jenkins said the walkout was not disruptive and participants would not be disciplined.

The phrase “one nation under God” was inserted during the 1950s McCarthy anti-communist hysteria.



KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Churches offer shelter to undocumented workers

Inspired by the fight of Elvira Arellano, an undocumented worker who was deported and thereby separated from her U.S.-born son after she left a church in Chicago, several area churches announced they would provide sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation.

“It is the very soul of our nation that is at stake in how we treat families in which one or both parents are illegal immigrants but the children are American citizens,” said the Rev. Rick Behrens of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church. “We are losing our soul as we separate children from parents.”

Church leaders and their supporters have formed the New Sanctuary Movement. In a statement, they said churches would offer sanctuary if seekers have U.S.-born children, no criminal record and have worked in the United States.



MILWAUKEE: March celebrates struggle to desegregate housing

For over 200 consecutive days in 1967, the late Father James Groppi led a march every day to a bridge that now bears his name. The bridge was the entryway to “no man’s land,” barring African Americans from moving into the white community on the other side. African Americans and progressive whites demanded that all Milwaukeeans be free to live wherever they chose, regardless of race.

Pamela Jo Sargent was 13 when she received her badge of honor during those marches. Pulling back her hair, she showed reporters a scar a few inches above her left eyebrow that runs all the way to the back of her head. “I was hit in the head by a brick,” she said.

Every day, mobs lined the streets leading to the bridge and were on the bridge itself, hurling rocks and bricks, screaming curses and spitting on marchers.

Sargent, who now lives in Mississippi, brought seven of her grandchildren to Milwaukee for the celebration so they would know the history.

Peggy Rozga, Groppi’s widow (Groppi left the priesthood in 1976 and died in 1985), along with social justice activist Dick Gregory and other marchers from those historic days, led the march across the 16th Street Viaduct, renamed James E. Groppi Unity Bridge. Latinos who were among the marchers chanted, “Sí se puede!”

“There is nothing in America that equals what happened here in Milwaukee,” said Gregory. “When the rest of the country saw what was going on in Milwaukee, it realized that equality was not an Alabama problem, was not a Mississippi problem. This is an American problem.”

The City Council enacted an open housing ordinance in April 1968.



SACRAMENTO, Calif.: Republicans abandon ‘stealth’ election trick

Republican big-leaguers, including Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, are running as fast as they can from the scene of a proposed California ballot measure to change the state’s winner-take-all Electoral College presidential vote system.

On Sept. 28, billionaire hedge fund executive Paul Singer, a policy adviser and major fund-raiser for Giuliani, revealed he was the mystery donor who gave $175,000 to a Missouri-based tax-exempt group “Take Initiative America.” The goal was to place a question on the ballot that would have apportioned 53 of the state’s 55 electoral votes according to the top vote getter in each congressional district, instead of the current winner-take-all system.

Had the proposed referendum’s provisions been law in 2004, President Bush would have won 22 electoral votes in California instead of zero.

Just 24 hours before Singer’s acknowledgement, California Republicans began jumping ship. Thomas Hiltachk, an attorney who has represented the California Republican Party, and other backers withdrew their support for the effort, saying there was not sufficient interest or financial support to continue.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696 @aol.com). Marilyn Bechtel contributed to this week’s clips.