Dear Breakthrough Community, 

What we witnessed this week at the Capitol will live on in my mind forever. January 6, 2021, was my birthday, and forever more that day will have a new meaning in our nation’s history. This event, in so many ways, shined a light on realities we all know to be true about our country. We are a divided nation. And as we saw the insurrectionists assault our national Capitol, how many of us were thinking about what the response would have looked like if these men and women had been people of color? Sadly, we all know the answer. Had Wednesday’s assault on the Capitol been carried out by Black, Brown or Indigenous people, they would have been met with batons, pepper spray, tear-gas, rubber bullets, if not worse. The less aggressive response in this case again reflects the advantage of White privilege.

2020 was one of the most difficult years in our modern history, and this event was in some ways a predictable —albeit absolutely shocking— end to years of intentional divisiveness, selfishness, unjust systems and the devaluing of people of color.

Throughout this year, we have experienced deeply painful and truly frightening events. We’ve seen repeated killings of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement, including the outrageous murder of defenseless and unarmed Andre Hill just two weeks ago in the garage of a Columbus home. At the same time, we’ve been living in the midst of a rampant global health pandemic that has touched each and every one of our lives. And we’ve endured endless months of grief, unrest, and frustration. 

And so, I find I have a need to look for signs of inspiration and hope during these times. I see it in the victory this week of the first Black man ever elected to the US Senate from Georgia, Pastor Raphael Warnock from the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the same church that was once led by  Martin Luther King, Jr. I see it in the dedication of nurses and doctors and caregivers of all kinds, every day, giving everything they have to help us all survive these times. I see hope in delivery drivers, grocery workers, and restaurant staff keeping our communities running. 

And of course, I see so much hope in the absolute determination of each and every one of our teachers, front line workers, and support staff, who have found ways to keep learning going; to keep scholars engaged; to find a path forward, through it all, together. I see hope in each and every one of our families, who make incredible sacrifices daily to help make school at home possible, balancing work and life and the weight of the world. And, I see so much hope in our scholars, who have managed through what I pray is the most difficult stretch of their educational careers with grace and focus, undeterred and always ready to learn. Never have I seen such inventiveness, resilience, and determination come together through so many people through such collectively difficult circumstances. 

And so here we are in 2021. Wednesday’s upsetting events only underscore the importance of the work we do together— Breakthrough families and staff— to provide a brighter, more just and equitable future for our scholars. We know that it will not come easy. But I also believe that the criminal acts of domestic terrorism at our Capitol can become the motivation to come together for a fresh start in Washington and across our nation. The light that has shined so brightly on our country has illuminated the very real and present danger to our democracy, and I believe that we can now create a consensus that our democracy is too precious to ever put at risk again. Together, we will work toward a more just society. If we are able to deliver that for our children, we will know we have helped push the arc of history further toward justice. We have no other option than to give it all that we have. At Breakthrough Schools, it’s why we do the work we do. It’s why we’re so committed to our scholars, our community, and to dismantling the systemic obstacles that stand in the way of that future vision of a more “Beloved Community.”

As we start a New Year, thank you all for joining in that quest.

Alan