January 7, 2021

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” --Mark Twain

To The Membership of The Phi Beta Kappa New York Association:

There are words provided to us in the English language that can be used to describe the events of January 6th, 2021 at The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.: Shocked, Saddened, Dismayed, Disquieted, Disturbed, Outraged. There are some who may not choose to use these words, but it is our collective belief, not just as an organization, but as human beings that this is the lexicon we must use--to condemn political violence, to condemn insurrection, to condemn the disruption and attempted corruption of our democracy. As we saw on January 6th, words have power, and they also have consequences. And so, it does not feel the time to choose words with delicacy; rather, it is a time to say boldly and plainly (as many in Congress and elsewhere have done), that these heinous actions, and those who perpetrated them, were unequivocally wrong.

So too is it wrong, as many have done, to attempt to shift blame for these activities onto unproven “others” or to play a game of justification by juxtaposing this with moments of peaceful protest. We are a learned organization and an apolitical one, but that does not abrogate our responsibility to use our voice to call out harm and ugly display when we see it. The time for timidity has passed.

As a learned organization, we feel that it is incumbent upon us to not merely point to what has transpired and condemn it. Rather, we must issue a clarion call that is rooted in the beliefs of our humble and long-lived institution: an appeal to a diverse and unparalleled education as a means for reconciliation and national resurrection. The grievances of those people who stormed The Capitol are perhaps rooted in a growing concern for many of us: inequality, driven in part by unequal access to academics. And so, our solution is to encourage all of us to seek and strive for a common truth and understanding through broad learning that challenges assumptions and sharpens our examination of all the worlds’ contours through respectful dialogue. Meaning and enlightenment are hardly ever found at the end of a rifle, but rather through study that leads to the attainment of wonders both intellectual and pecuniary. In this way, we can achieve an equality of mind that makes the recklessness and abhorrent misadventures of January 6th historical artifact.

We grieve for our Republic. We grieve for those lost in the throes of malice. We hold high those who were not cowed by slings and arrows both literal and figurative. We stand together and look forward to a bright and brilliant future in the full light of our better angels.

With wishes for your continued health, safety, and well-being.


Members of The Board of Directors, Phi Beta Kappa New York Association


PBKNY YP Virtual Volunteering​

  • Virtual Food Drive in partnership with Food Bank for New York City through Dec. 31st

  • Donate here

  • Additional ways to give back here

Book Club

Upcoming Event

  • The Diversity and Inclusion Committee will host a Book Club Event featuring Alina Das, author of "No Justice in the Shadows: How America Criminalizes Immigrants" on Jan. 14th. 

  • Register here

  • For more information on "No Justice in the Shadows: How America Criminalizes Immigrants." 

National Office News

Summer 2020: Virtual Events and Activities
New York Association 2020 Time Capsule.p

We are building a Virtual 2020 Time Capsule on

  • Do you have a special picture, piece of advice, or memory you would like to share?

  • Submit here


Annual Scholarships

We award annual scholarships to graduating seniors of New York City community colleges.
Details here


Details here

Young Professionals of PBKNY
Details here

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Are you a Phi Beta Kappa Member? Is it time to renew your dues? You can do so here.


Interested in becoming a part of the Phi Beta Kappa New York Association? Learn more here.

As the entire world adjusts to the new normal brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, Phi Beta Kappa chapters and associations have risen to the occasion. After many chapters held virtual inductions for the Class of 2020, associations across the country have hosted book clubs, happy hours, trivia game, movie screenings, and lectures, all via Zoom. Our members have clearly figured out how to remain connected while staying at home! 


Back in Washington, DC, the National Office has been hard at work supporting our members and advocating for the arts, humanities, and higher education. Our National Arts and Sciences Initiative inducted its inaugural class of Key Into Public Service Scholars with a two-day virtual convening. The scholars met with industry leaders and experts to learn about the value of graduate school, how to enter the foreign service, and how to communicate the value of their degrees to employers.  


Finally, we listened to member requests and highlighted 28 fantastic books by Black authors in our 2020 Summer Reading List. With books spanning centuries and continents, we hoped to capture just a fraction of the incredible contributions that Black authors have made to the literary canon. We’re certain every member can find something of interest on the list. 

The Phi Beta Kappa Society


Click here for more information

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© 2018 by the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Image Credits.