January 21, 2021

We will not turn back.

Youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the 2021 inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

“The dawn is ours before we knew it.”

The brilliant youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman declared these words today from the U.S. Capitol, continuing, “Somehow we do it. Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished.”

As we usher in a new administration today, I am sitting with the dualities of this moment. We are at once grateful for new (and historic!) leadership and the policy opportunities that give shape to so much of our work, and aware that while hands of leadership have changed, the inequities that our public systems are designed to produce and uphold have not.

The white nationalist insurrections we have seen at our capitals these past few weeks, both in D.C. and in Salem, demonstrate not only the great dangers facing our democracy, but also the threats and realities of violence that impact our work and our communities. We know that what happened January 6 at the U.S. Capitol, and what we’ve seen in Salem and at statehouses across the country, represents not just an inevitable consequence of the past four years, but the past four hundred years of white supremacist violence in our society. This is no anomaly or aberration. The ongoing suppression of full representative democracy is a recurring refrain of our American history. We must reckon with this reality if we ever hope to change it.

Part of our shared work at Meyer is to strengthen and sustain the grassroots power needed to do just that. The communities we partner with have the vision, experience and solutions needed to create a truly equitable Oregon. We know that this is hard work and that these are hard times.

And those continuing to do this crucial work here in Oregon are not alone.

As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, less than two miles down the National Mall from the U.S. Capitol, “We cannot walk alone, and as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

We at Meyer are right here beside our grantees and allies. And we will not turn back. We will continue to push forward into this new chapter for our communities, and for an equitable Oregon. And we know, because of the power, the passion and the unyielding, unapologetic persistence of our partners, the dawn is ours. And our work together will not stop until we are finished.

In community and solidarity,

— Kaberi