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June 13, 2020

Dear members,

In light of the speculation and rumors that have come to my attention, I feel compelled to explain what I can about recent upheaval at the National Book Critics Circle, whose board I have been honored to sit on, both as board member and as elected president, for over five years, after years of involvement with the organization as a member.

As members of the NBCC board were trying to work out the wording of a statement in support of Black Lives Matter and against racism, especially in our own realm of publishing, private exchanges were made public on Twitter, which made it impossible to continue with this discussion in good faith. I, along with five of our board members resigned, though not in a coordinated fashion. I can only speak for myself when I say that such a breach of confidence precludes the sort of deliberations that are essential to the NBCC's mission as a critical organization.
It is with great sadness that I have given up my position as president of NBCC's board, as I have tried mightily over the course of virtually my entire life to advance the cause of writers, literature, and publishing in a world of ever-diminishing resources and attention—and this, as I see it, has been at the heart of all the NBCC does. Again, I cannot speak for my fellow or former board members, but for me, a failure of confidence in the sanctity of the process makes proceeding impossible.
With regret, and best wishes for you all,
Laurie Hertzel
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