Dear Fellow Citizens:

January 6, 2021 is a day which will stand out in the history of our nation as both a day of triumph of the American spirit and a day of pain in that same spirit.

Millions of Georgians voted, raised their voices, and expressed their preferences for representation in our democracy, first by electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next leaders of this nation and then by electing the state’s first African-American senator, the Reverend Rafael Warnock. The triumph of the American spirit was manifested as Congress prepared to certify the vote of the Electoral College, proving that we the people select through a free and open process those individuals who will represent our voices within the body politic.

We instead witnessed how anguish, disbelief, and dismay can corrupt that spirit. Encouraged by vitriolic lies and unsubstantiated and legally dismissed notions of voting fraud by President Donald Trump, mobs of citizens attempted an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.   It was sickening and heartbreaking to witness this attempt to shatter the promise of the American ideal by the reckless and insidious behavior of a few who refused to accept the decision rendered through a fair and legal election.

This is not the moment to fall into despair, but it is yet another opportunity for our communities to stand up for democracy and justice. For well over a century, the institutions of the Atlanta University Center have worked to use the light of knowledge to guide the nation out of dark times. The world needs our leadership and resolve to continue to fight the good fight for civil society. We accomplish remarkable things when we act in solidarity to build the good society and continue to push America to live up to its promise. The institutions of the Atlanta University Center teach a truth that aims to refine and polish our democracy— not destroy it because of anyone’s egotistical sociopathy spewing falsehoods and false hopes. The very existence of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College is a recognition that education can strengthen our democracy and illuminate the path to justice, equality, and civil society. While we are proud of the leaders our institutions have sent forth into the workforce of every field of endeavor, we are even prouder of their preparation to carry forward the demanding work of making the world better through ideas, innovation, creativity, courage, and determination.

Indeed, we have seen a day of triumph of the American spirit and a day of pain in that same spirit. The people of Georgia and the nation have exercised their rights and responsibilities within our democracy. The spirit of that democracy is wounded; but it will heal stronger. Let the officials elected by the people act in the interests of the people and fulfill their duties to represent our voices. This will be the challenge of the days and weeks ahead.

George French, Ph.D.
President, Clark Atlanta University

David Thomas, Ph.D.
President, Morehouse College

Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, FACOG
President, Morehouse School of Medicine

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College

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