Pledge of Allegiance, Raphael Weill Elementary School, San Francisco
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Dorothea Lange
American, San Francisco, California, 1942
Gelatin silver print

13 3/8 x 10 1/16 in.

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I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Clutching her lunchbag, this schoolgirl places her right hand on her heart to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Dorothea Lange made this photograph at the Raphael Weill School in San Francisco's Japantown. A few weeks after Lange captured this image, the U.S. government relocated this innocent girl, and thousands of other Japanese Americans, to desolate areas east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The attack on Pearl Harbor, which marked the beginning of direct American involvement in World War II, triggered the rise of assaults on the Japanese in America. Lange's photograph speaks to a shameful part of America's history, when all persons of Japanese descent were forced into internment camps because of their supposed risk to national security. President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized these detentions as protection against espionage and sabotage.