An 11-year-old Maryland girl who was reprimanded by her sixth-grade teacher for kneeling during her class’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance received a show of support from none other than Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. Mariana Taylor is heading into the seventh grade, but in the middle of the previous school year at Catonsville Middle School, she decided to sit while her class recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Citing inspiration from the former NFL quarterback Coling Kaepernick, who popularized taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem at NFL games, Taylor knelt during a subsequent recitation of the pledge.
The third time she took a knee during the pledge, she was reprimanded by her teacher, who, Taylor said, told school officials Taylor was breaking school rules. Taylor said she was humiliated and left the classroom in tears. The ACLU quickly took up her cause as a debate erupted in the community over public school students’ First Amendment rights.
Well, on Wednesday morning, Taylor got a lot more cultural fire power behind her. The social media viral video outlet Now This released a video telling Taylor’s story and showing her speaking about her experience. “It is in my rights that I am allowed to kneel,” Taylor can be heard saying in the video. The video, which runs a little more than two minutes, caught the attention of Hillary Clinton who gave the 11-year-old a major vote of confidence.
“It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11! Keep up the good work Mariana,” Clinton said in a tweet that amplified the NowThis video.
It takes courage to exercise your right to protest injustice, especially when you’re 11! Keep up the good work Mariana. https://t.co/vnGheuWyJ0
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 15, 2018
At the time, Taylor’s teacher told her that she should stand out of a matter of respect to the country and as a way of focusing on the positive aspects of the U.S. However, as it turns out both Baltimore County and Maryland law allow for students to be exempted from reciting or standing for the Pledge of Allegiance if they so choose. Students right to refrain from reciting the pledge dates all the way back to a 1943 Supreme Court decision, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, in which the nation’s top court ruled that compelling public school students to salute the flag is unconstitutional.