About one week ago, many Americans gathered around their screens to view the historic inauguration of the 46th president of the United States and his glass-ceiling shattering vice president. I hope for just a moment, most people in this country felt a sense of calm and hope for the future. Regardless of political affiliation, it was a moment to be shared with all people who live on this land.
No one nailed that point more beautifully than National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. In particular, one passage in her inaugural poem helps frame where we are as a nation and where we hope to go.
“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow, we do it.
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about that word “unfinished” and I think it captures the work we all have before us. Independent Sector is a community of so many different types of organizations — all working to improve the common good through their unique mission. Regardless of an organization’s particular mission, it is clear from our nation’s painful history that we all must step into the work of building racial equity into our strategies and outcomes. And our wonderfully diverse sector brings a powerful and unique set of organizations and leaders to this task. Some have had racial justice at the core of their missions from their inception, others realized the depths of our unfinished work shortly after the 2016 election, and for others, a strategic and moral imperative to tackle racial equity only truly became a focus in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd by police. Every individual and organization may arrive to this path at a different time, but one thing that gives me hope is our determination to ensure that we all, collectively, work on this unfinished nation together.
There is monumental and constructive work before us, but there is also unity in purpose. We are a divided nation, and nothing made that more clear than watching the insurrection staged by white supremacists at the Capitol on January 6. Unifying to move the country forward from that act of terror will not come without accountability and justice — not just for what happened on January 6, but for much of what our most vulnerable communities have endured for the entire history of this country. And the last four years, in particular, we saw a sort of politics that took racism and intensified it as a dividing issue.
My hope and our aim as we move forward is that we all, as leaders of important institutions in civil society, can find unity in the process of acknowledging the truth, owning accountability, working for justice, and bringing together the most diverse set of ideas, leaders, and organizations to heal this unfinished nation.
Independent Sector’s particular contribution to this nation-building work is to focus on strengthening our nation’s nonprofit sector and ensuring the people we serve live in healthy and equitable communities. Despite the upheaval in Washington, DC over the last few weeks and the moments we took to pause and appreciate the historic nature of our recent election, we have not slowed down a bit on our advocacy for this sector and the communities we serve. Conversations with the new Administration continue as we delivered timely information on the most pressing needs facing the nonprofit community. We also joined a coalition of our peer organizations in asking the new Administration to support nonprofits’ critical and unique role of providing relief and economic recovery in the midst of this still raging global pandemic. You may sign on to that letter here.
Many of you have already joined us as part of these important efforts all toward creating a more perfect union. There will be many more updates and opportunities ahead. It is an awe-aspiring and motivating prospect and I thank you for joining us on this journey.