Like many, I’m still numb and in disbelief regarding the rebellion and lawless acts we witnessed at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6. After all, we went through 2020 with COVID and civil unrest, but I was hopeful 2021 would be a brighter day. Then we saw tragic, disgraceful, and embarrassing acts unfold that disrespected our democracy. We also saw an honest reflection of the divide that exists in our country. As I watched the news coverage, I was torn with feelings of shock, sorrow and rage. I thought this must be our wake-up call to look in the mirror, all of us, and decide if we’re going to continue to live with hate in our eyes and allow our nation to continue to be divided in ways that result in the loss of lives? I say, “No!”

As president of a college with a diverse student population (31% students of color), and also, as a Black man, I can’t deny I was angered because of the double standards on display. The National Guard and federal agents guarded DC in full gear and preparation in anticipation for Black Lives Matter protests. Yet, with weeks of announcements for a “call for action” and the promise of a “wild rally” to occur on the day Congress was to validate election results, MAGA insurgents and thugs were able to storm and ransack our Capitol with what appeared to be little resistance and preparation. How can this be? Was white privilege fully on display? Dr. Martin Luther King told us there are still two Americas. Race does still divide us, and my heart hurts because of this fact.

A lie doesn't become truth just because it's accepted by a majority. Judges have ruled and facts have shown the election was not stolen. Those claims are a lie. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney eloquently stated in the chambers Wednesday night, “We gather today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning.” I say, follow the truth, stand for the right, good, kindness, love and good will.

I am still hopeful for better days, and remain committed to holding courageous conversations around the educational equity gap and race/equity at RCTC. But I also recognize we still have a lot of work to do. We are the United States of America. We are a nation, pledging our alliance to the flag, not to an individual. We shall overcome.

Peace, hope and love,

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Jeffery S. Boyd, Ed.D., is president of Rochester Community and Technical College.