To the Editor:


Since its creation in 2017 the Racial Unity Team (RUT) has publicly stated its support for Governor Sununu’s Executive Order 2017-09, creating the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion; we have followed this council’s listening sessions and reports with deep interest, and are impressed with the recommendations of the council in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for two years, RUT has, through public statements, petitions, and a letter to Governor Sununu, urged him to appoint at least one person of color to the state Board of Education.


Our interest has been, and remains, in the collective capacity of the board to develop policies and initiatives that take full account of the state’s evolving needs as it educates the next generation of its children. We strongly believe that the experience and perspective of persons of color should be an intrinsic part of any such process.


Last week, Governor Sununu nominated Ryan Terrell, an African American from Nashua, to the state board. Like all nominations to state boards and commissions, approval by the five-member Executive Council (EC) is required for confirmation. The EC rejected Mr. Terrell’s nomination by a 3-2 vote, with Democrats in the majority. In response to that vote, there have been widely circulated, heated statements of criticism and blame from many sources, including charges of "political motivations" to "structural racism," with little attention to the central issue: the need for a state board with visible commitment to the affirming respect for all human differences reflected in the teaching and learning of public schools in New Hampshire.


The Racial Unity Team hopes that politics was not the basis of either this nomination or the final vote. More importantly, we wish to call attention to the fact that there are several applications by people of color in a pool of persons interested in serving on the State Board. We urge Governor Sununu to review these applicants and to continue movement toward naming a person of color to this important state board.


Governor Sununu: The timing for such a nomination is critical, as our national racial and pandemic crises become increasingly intertwined. We urge you to seize this opportunity to nominate another person of color to the state Board of Education.


Thank you,


Ken Mendis


Board of directors


Racial Unity Team