Dear Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, and Friends of Rotary,
At about the time I was becoming optimistic about our medical progress in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, all hell broke loose with rioting and looting across the country, the likes of which we haven’t seen in the Rochester area since 1964.  So, what are the roles and responsibilities of Rotary clubs and Rotarians in the midst of all this?
I believe every Rotarian would adamantly deny being racist.  Racism isn’t fair, doesn’t build good will and better friendships, and isn’t beneficial to all concerned.  Rotary International advocates for diversity in our club membership.  Over the past three years our district leadership has focused efforts against poverty, drug addiction, and illiteracy.  What we have done has been good, but not good enough!
Racism is not a genetically inherited trait.  We were taught at home and at school that all are created equal, and that America is the land of opportunity.  Yet, despite the Emancipation Proclamation, despite Brown vs. the Board of Education, and despite all the civil rights legislation, there surely remains inequality and lack of opportunity.  Unfortunately, we must acknowledge that we live in a socially, educationally, and legally racist environment.
As Rotarians, let us step beyond the denial of fault, beyond the scapegoating of our ancestors and founding fathers.  Let us accept the problem for the reality that it is today and become the problem-solving People of Action that Rotarians have been for over 100 years.
Peacebuilding is one of the six areas of focus for The Rotary Foundation.  Peacebuilding is not just the prevention of nuclear holocaust or the resettlement of refugees in war-torn areas of the globe.  We must start with peace in our own communities.
I encourage each Rotary club to incorporate a community peacebuilding element into their STRATEGIC PLAN this year.  I ask you to address racism at your club and board meetings, and look at what you can do through membership, public image, and community service to correct the inequities that exist.  I invite you to partner with ROCHESTER NORTHWEST, ROCHESTER SOUTHWEST, and ROCHESTER LATINO Rotary Clubs to enhance their efforts at peacebuilding in their communities.   Also, look beyond your own community to address educational inequity, as ROCHESTER and VICTOR-FARMINGTOM Rotary Clubs have done.
Make our legacy that of peacebuilding!  
DG Dave Hannan