The Children of Quinn-Colored American Day

In recognition of Colored American Day at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the UIC African American Cultural Center and Quinn Chapel AME Church remembered the day with song, sermon, and a special tribute to the Pledge of Allegiance by The Children of Quinn.

Many people don’t know that the Pledge of Allegiance came out of the World’s Fair of 1893. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister and a Christian socialist.

The original “Pledge of Allegiance” was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

In 1892 Francis Bellamy was also a chairman of a committee of state superintendents of education in the National Education Association. As its chairman, he prepared the program for the public schools’ quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute – his ‘Pledge of Allegiance.’

Bellamy’s original Pledge read as follows:

I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
By June 29, 1892, Bellamy had arranged for Congress and President Benjamin Harrison to announce a proclamation making the public school flag ceremony the center of the Columbus Day celebrations (this was issued as Presidential Proclamation 335). Subsequently, the Pledge was first used in public schools on October 12, 1892, during Columbus Day observances organized to coincide with the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
The Bureau of Education liked the idea so much they printed massive quantities of the pledge and mailed copies to virtually every school in the nation. The children and adults saying the pledge at the moment of the dedication were to show respect for the flag by giving that symbol a gesture that came to be known as the “Bellamy salute.” The gesture involved stretching the arm out toward the flag as the pledge was recited. The practice of reciting the pledge caught on quickly with educators and the public in general. Soon it was a regular part of a student’s school day.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted a salute which was similar in form to the Bellamy salute, resulting in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States. It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code on December 22, 1942.
The Pledge has been modified four times since its composition.
The Children of Quinn decided to honor Colored American Day by performing their own renditions of the Pledge of Allegiance. They ended the performance with a salute to Trayvon Martin and school supplies were given to each of the performers by the members of Quinn.