Dean Ashish K. Jha: Reflections on January 6, 2021

Dear Members of the SPH Community,

I am writing to echo President Paxson’s important words about the fragility of democracy.  I also want to acknowledge the important work of safeguarding that democracy, and share reflections about where we are and what we can do.

Today was an extraordinary day that brought a direct attack on our democracy.

But tonight, reflecting on what we saw unfold and thinking about our community, I am hopeful. We are two weeks away from a peaceful transition of power. Tuesday, we witnessed elections in Georgia that made plain that our democracy still works – and that the will of the people can’t be suppressed.

We in the Brown SPH community are strong because we are united in our belief in giving voice to the voiceless, in amplifying the power of civic engagement, in the value of creating an inclusive environment. Our commitment to freedom and liberty – real freedom that comes from mutual respect and support – enables us to seek answers to the hardest questions, to find common ground when we come from different backgrounds and world views, and to solve problems that forever seemed intractable.

That community – our community – will withstand days like today.

I finish by reminding you, as I remind myself, the words of the late, great U.S. Representative. John Lewis. He said, quite perfectly, that “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”

Please stay safe and take care of each other. We are going through extraordinary times in our country but together, as a community, I am deeply optimistic that we will emerge stronger.

Be well,

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health
Brown University
Providence, RI
Twitter: @ashishkjha