Posted on January 22, 2019

Time to Update the Pledge of Allegiance

Cesar Vargas, The Hill, January 22, 2019


The pledge’s history is deeply rooted in nativism and white supremacy. Composed in 1892 by the minister Francis Bellamy, the pledge sought to define “true Americanism” that didn’t include people of color and immigrants particularly those coming from southern and eastern Europe.


Our pledge of allegiance should be rooted in optimism, not stem from the fear of a white native-born Protestant culture. It is time to upgrade our pledge so we can truly recite words that live up to a nation that takes pride in our immigrant heritage and equality of all Americans.


The upgraded version should read: “I pledge allegiance and love to our indigenous and immigrant heritage, rooted in the United States of America, to our civil rights for which we strive, one voice, one nation, for equality and justice for all.”

Inserting the word “love” in the upgraded pledge anchors us to a genuine patriotic affection for civic virtue, collaboration and respect for each other. This is a sharp contrast to the past and current misguided nationalism that very often breeds cultural, religious and ethnic intolerance.

Faced with an unceasing wave of xenophobia and discrimination against native Americans, we need to constantly remind ourselves that the United States is at its best when we embrace our immigrant and indigenous heritage.


Similarly, protecting civil rights is an essential part of the democratic values of our nation. Expressly outlining a commitment to “our civil rights” is an acknowledgment to the movements that have and will continue to fight for our liberties.

The phrases “one voice” and “equality” represent today’s reality that our neighborhoods are more than ever interwoven with people from every part of the globe.

{snip} Nevertheless, we are bound not by language, racial or ethnic ties, but by a vocal and legal commitment that every American stands as equal regardless of their immigration status, religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, disability and so on.


Cesar Vargas Esq. is a co-director of the Dream Action Coalition.