On the eve of his first monthly meeting Thursday, newly elected Denver school board member Tay Anderson said he would remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance.

“As a Black man, I am reminded today and every day of the injustices that still exist in our society,” Anderson said in a statement. “I am remaining seated as a representative for those who were not afforded the right to be here today.”

His statement references people of color who were killed by police officers or in interactions with law enforcement, including several in Colorado.

Anderson is a Denver Public Schools graduate. He was elected to the school board in November to represent the city at-large. Prior to his election, he was a highly visible activist in the Denver area, including at protests against gun violence and immigration enforcement.

“I have decided not to stand because we need our leaders to have the courage to fight alongside communities in sending a clear message that we will not stand while white supremacy is thriving,” Anderson said.

“We will not stand while our country separates families and keeps kids in cages. We will not stand while Black and Brown people are being murdered by those who are supposed to ‘protect and serve’ our communities.”

He said that while his decision may be difficult for some to understand, “I ask you to reflect on that discomfort and attempt to see this peaceful protest through the lens of the people who are consistently left behind.”