The 2020 General Election was a contest between two polar opposite candidates. Our country – and our state – was heavily divided on Election Day and in the weeks after.
Those divisions were laid bare on January 6 when pro-Trump rioters violently stormed our nation’s Capitol in an attempt to stop our elected representatives from certifying Joe Biden’s clear, legal election victory. It was a horrific and shocking display of domestic terrorism that none of us will ever forget.
Law enforcement must bring to account all those who incited and participated in that shocking effort to bring down our democracy, no matter their position or power. But with today's inauguration of Joe Biden, we can resolve to do even more to heal our divisions.
No matter how difficult it may seem, we must come together as Americans and look ahead. It’s time to rebuild and recover. It’s time to grow into the America we should be – one that treats our Black and Brown citizens with respect and equity, extinguishes racism, nationalism and their evils; one that prioritizes the needs of students; and one that lifts up working people. And we must unite around a humane and humanizing recovery from the many devastations of the COVID crisis.
But how do we come together as Americans after someone as divisive as Trump made his mark on the country? I believe it will take years, with a deep examination of who we are as a people and who we want to be. We must rebuild and reinvigorate the institutions of democracy in this nation.
To move forward, we must first look at our priorities as educators, school staff, and public employees serving the students and people of Illinois. We must work together to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all our students, regardless of zip code or skin color. We must be honest, learn from each other, and reach across the table that we have a seat at because of our collective union power. We must face the divisions of our past and always remember our goals – advocating for the best interests of students, our members and working families, and building a more just society.
As an organization, we have committed to having tough conversations. We’re reaching out to learn more about each other and what we need most. We are committed to listening and teaching. We are committed to doing the work that will defeat racism, bring equity to our workplaces, make our membership and organization stronger, and make our country more democratic.
I believe in our nation and its people. I believe in our union. And I believe that much more unites us than divides us. Together, we will keep moving forward. I am eager to work with you to make that happen.
Dan Montgomery | IFT President