Racial Unity Team salutes the life and legacy of Congressman John Lewis, one of the great moral and political leaders of our lifetimes. As a young man he was beaten and nearly killed, both as a Freedom Rider daring to integrate interstate buses and in the famous 1965 civil rights march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. He became one of the longest-serving members of the House of Representatives, where he was an unwavering advocate for universal freedom and dignity. He never lost his faith in democracy and nonviolent direct action as the most powerful engines of beneficial social and political change.
Moreover, despite his long and deep experience of racist violence and hatred, he never faltered in his belief that non-violence was not a tactic or strategy but a way of being in the world, one that called him to a continuous affirmation of love toward all persons.
He will remain in our memory and our hearts as one of the truest and most inspiring models of unshakable humanity.
To watch the video "Remembering John Lewis" click on his image.
June 10, 2020
Statement on State Board of Education Appointments from Racial Unity Team
Since 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 Covid19 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 5-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.
Ken Mendis, Chair
Board of Directors
Racial Unity Team
June 3, 2020
The horror of watching one black man’s life being choked off requires outrage. The violence and inhumanity that killed George Floyd, minute after minute, is the lens through which we see the terrible force of structural racism in our communities, our institutions and our nation. Every screen shot is witness to its brutality in what appears to have become common occurrence today - contempt for the life of a person of color.
The resulting fury — first locally, now nationally and internationally — expresses our collective grief in a moment of solidarity, but it also captures the essence of my anger and frustration and makes me ask what more can I do?
People of color, immigrants, Native Americans, people in prisons, the poor — the ones suffering and dying in greater numbers because of COVID-19 — bear the brunt of racial inequity in this country. That is why I will get up tomorrow and for as long as I can to continue the work we began as part of the Racial Unity Team in New Hampshire. And we need your help more than ever.
It is past time for much larger numbers of white citizens to stand up for the multi-racial, equitable society the United States has claimed to be. More people need to understand the country's actual history, including its complexities and its terrible burdens of racist violence and exclusion. It is those blind to racial inequity who worry us the most and to whom we also need to reach out. The Racial Unity Team needs your support and involvement in this work. Exeter needs your help, our teachers in our schools need your help, and more importantly our nation needs your help to raise up a generation of young people who are not only not racist but who are actively anti-racist.
For those of you with children and grandchildren, I call on you to start that conversation about race with your young children so we have hope for the future of this country that we all love so much.
Chair Board of Directors
Racial Unity Team