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Statement from Achieving the Dream

| Dr. Karen A. Stout President & CEO, Achieving the Dream

Thinking & Advocacy
January 8, 2021

As we end this extraordinary week, I am struck by both the fragility and strength of our democracy. We bore witness to a violent assault on the Capitol by people who sought to undermine a democratic election, an assault fomented by those who have sworn to uphold and defend our Constitution. We also bore witness to, as Roxane Gay articulated in an opinion piece in this morning’s New York Times, “white supremacy unchecked.”

And yet in this same week, we also saw democracy in action with the historic election in Georgia and the return of Congress, after leaving their chambers in gas masks, to certify the election of the next president. I remain inspired by Senator-elect Reverend Raphael Warnock’s words on Wednesday morning: “Your vote is your voice. And your voice is your dignity.” Indeed, millions of Americans gave voice to their dignity this week.

The late civil rights icon and congressional leader John Lewis reminded us shortly before his passing that democracy requires us to act and exhorted us all to “do [our] part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and a world society at peace with itself.” Community colleges have, since their inception, played a critical democratizing role in higher education and in our communities. And that role has never been more important.

Achieving the Dream has long recognized that community colleges must advance institutional and community change that addresses barriers to equitable social and economic mobility. At Achieving the Dream, we will act with urgency to do our part in supporting our network of community colleges in becoming hubs for building equitable, anti-racist communities that are drivers of community economic and civic vitality.

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