“The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.” – President Joe Biden
I write this a day after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in as the next democratically elected President and Vice President of the United States. Wednesday morning’s inauguration ceremony brought tears to many of us at Innovate as we reflected on the fragility and resilience of our democracy, the proud diversity of our country, and the momentousness of inaugurating our first African American, first Asian American, and first female Vice President.
Wednesday morning, we witnessed the peaceful transfer of power. History and current events around the world show us that this peaceful transfer is a remarkable thing and is not guaranteed. The cloud of the attack on the capitol on January 6 hung over the event and remains on our minds. Our institutions, balances of power, and common commitment to democracy prevailed. But, even as we celebrate the triumph over those who would hurt our country, we are aware that the threats to democracy remain.
We saw clearly the last few weeks that what ultimately makes our country work is people with integrity — people who understand what is sacred about our system and who stand up for what is right. My hope is that we will all strive to be those people, whether it be at a national scale or in our local communities. Democracy only works if we make it work!
Democracy is at the heart of the work we do at Innovate. We organize so that parents, whose voices are often left out of decision-making, can know and exercise their power in our democracy. We develop the leadership of Latino parents and Black parents as well as parents with limited economic resources to help right the unjust imbalances of power that make our democracy weaker. We know how important this work is, and how much remains to be done.
In the words of Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history:
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
This is no small task. President Biden acknowledged the great racial and ethnic justice challenges we face as a nation when he said:
“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.”
As you know, this battle plays out on the national stage and in our local communities. Our parent leaders are at the forefront of this struggle, and they show me time and again how ready they are for this battle. They were the first people I thought of when I heard these words in Gormans’ poem:
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Thank you, leaders and our supportive community, for all you do to keep our democracy alive and to make it better. May we find inspiration from our national celebrations to strengthen us in our local efforts.
I’ll leave you with the last words of Gorman’s poem, a call to action and a reminder of our own role in creating the world we want to see:
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it
In hope and power,
Silvia Mahan, Regional VP, San Jose