Director's Statement on the Breach of the US Capitol

Statement from Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library

January 7, 2021

Like so many who are privileged to work on Capitol Hill, we at the Folger are saddened and shaken by what happened in our neighborhood yesterday. The violent breach of the US Capitol to thwart the election and peaceful transfer of power is an affront to our American democracy and our District community.

This is a moment of great division in American life, in part because of the pandemic. But there are deeper underlying divisions, about culture, about freedom, about racial justice, and about who gets to enjoy the benefits of our democratic society. These conflicts are real and they define our moment.

We do not know what the coming days and months will bring. But as an institution representing the arts and humanities, part of our role in civic life is to take deep questions and deep disagreements and meet them with a knowledge of history and a passion for greater understanding.

To all who have reached out to us, the Folger—our staff, collection, and landmark building— remains safe. What’s also safe is our commitment to engaging more and more of our fellow Americans in challenging conversations that elevate our shared humanity and strengthen our democracy.