Liam Holmes made the move Monday night as his Cub Scout troop opened the city council meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance.
"What I did was took a knee against racial discrimination, which is basically when people are mean to other people of different colors," Liam said.
His dad said he was surprised, but proud of his son. Liam said the mayor thanked him afterwards.
"To the scout that expressed his conscience by kneeling, we will say we endorse and appreciate all expressions of conscience in Durham City Council," Mayor Steve Schewel said.
But lifelong Scout Brandon LaRoque disagreed, telling WNCN: "Part of the scout oath is to God and your country, and I understand people have the right to freedom of speech. I just don't understand why it has to be during the Pledge of Allegiance."