COBB COUNTY, Ga - A Cobb County School Board member has raised more than a few eyebrows for what he did during a recent meeting. While everyone was standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, Dr. Jaha Howard took a knee.
Dr. Howard has been getting both praise and criticism over his actions. He said he doesn’t regret what he calls "an act of love.”
It was just a few moments during the October 15 Cobb School Board meeting that’s garnering attention.
“This was an act of love. It was an act of love of neighbor and love of country,” Dr. Howard said.
Post 2 Board Member Dr. Jaha Howard took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It was the one year anniversary of the death of Kevil Wingo here in Cobb County,” he said.
Howard said the case of Kevil Wingo, the 36-year-old father who died ten minutes after he was wheeled into this enclosed cell in the Cobb County jail last September was the reason for his bold action.
“I’ve been following this case for quite a while and it’s been heartbreaking. To have video evidence of a man being allowed to sit and die,” Dr. Howard said. “When I put my hand over my heart and say the Pledge, ‘…liberty and justice for all.’ If all means all, then it means someone who is in a detention center awaiting trial.”
Howard said he’s received an overwhelming response both good and bad.
“I had a school board colleague not talk to me directly but send an email out saying I hate America. It was hurtful because this was an act of love,” he said.
Howard shared with FOX 5 the email from fellow board member and vice-chair David Banks claiming Howard “hates America” and that his actions were “disgraceful.”
“We have to open our eyes. We have issues in our own backyards. There’s work to do and work that everyone can be a part of,” Howard said. “No regrets. I don’t regret an act of love.”
Banks did not respond to FOX 5’s inquiries as of Monday evening.
Howard said he hasn’t thought about whether he will continue to kneel. He said he knew he had to make a statement during that meeting.