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March 20, 2003

Talk explores ‘dark side’ of Pledge

Richard Ellis of Willamette University in Oregon will explore the complicated history of the Pledge of Allegiance and what he describes as its roots in both American ideals and a fear of newcomers in “The Dark Side of the Pledge of Allegiance,” Wednesday, March 26 at California State University, Sacramento. Ellis will also discuss the current issue about including “under God” in the pledge, a dispute that is likely headed to the Supreme Court.

The talk will be at 4 p.m. in Mendocino 3011.

Ellis is a leading expert on cultural influences in American politics, and is writing a book on the history of the Pledge of Allegiance. He has authored or edited 10 books, including Democratic Delusions, The Dark Side of the Left and American Political Culture.

Ellis says there are two popular stories about the origins of the pledge – the first that it was about instilling American ideals, and the second that it was written by a subversive leftist before being co-opted by conservatives. Ellis says both are oversimplified. He says that many people contributed to creating the pledge, all of whom were deeply religious and concerned about the growing number of immigrants in the United States as well as how to integrate them. They were also worried about growing materialism and commercialism.

The pledge was first recited by schoolchildren across America in 1892 during the 400th anniversary celebration of Columbus landing in America. It did not include the phrase “under God,” which was added in 1954.

More information is available by contacting CSUS public policy professor Ted Lascher at 278-4864 or Media assistance is available by contacting CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.


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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
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