Brenda Lett named 2021 Citizen of the Year by Black Heritage Trail of NH

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Brenda Bailey Lett of Manchester will be honored Oct. 23 as New Hampshire 2021 Citizen of the Year during the 15th Annual Black New England Conference Awards Dinner at Saint Anselm College. Photo/BHTNH

PORTSMOUTH, NH – Brenda Bailey Lett of Manchester has been named recipient of the New Hampshire 2021 Citizen of the Year Award by unanimous vote of the members of the Black Heritage Trail of NH. The announcement was made Sept. 12 by  Executive Director JerriAnne Boggis.

“Ms. Lett has earned a reputation as one of the Granite State’s most ‘Influential and Phenomenal Women’ due to her untiring activism and advocacy for social justice,” Boggis said.

The Citizen of the Year Award will be presented to Lett at the 15th Annual Black New England Conference Awards Dinner to be held at Saint Anselm College (NHIOP) on October 23.  The conference is sponsored by the Black Heritage Trail of NH in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.

According to Boggis, Lett’s organizational skills and creativity have led to a galaxy of cultural celebrations and strategically positioned platforms for social justice.  Her name is perhaps most well known in New Hampshire and, in fact, around the country, for her many years, along with her husband Woullard Lett, of teaching the principles of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA).  Lett serves as a member of N’COBRA’s national board and she holds the office of national treasurer for N’COBRA.  N”COBRA, founded in 1987, is the premiere mass-based coalition of organizations and individuals organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States.

A woman of African descent, Ms. Lett is co-author of Race Between Us: Racism A Human ExperienceShe and her co-author of European descent, Laurielee Woodlock Roy, tell the story of the profound and inescapable truths that emerge between people when barriers are removed and honest dialogue unfolds.

Lett has been publicly recognized for her activities as a “drum major for peace” by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Coalition (MLK Coalition-NH); by the YMCA for Empowering Leadership and Equity in New Hampshire (YWCA-NH); and by the NAACP Freedom Fund.  She has been a Convener of the Tapestry of Color Awards Luncheon, rewarding other community activists with proclamations from the NH Governor.  She is a co-founder of the annual We Are One Festival in Manchester that draw people together from around northern New England. Lett also co-sponsors the Community Kwanzaa Celebrations that close each year, punctuated by her own joyful affirmations.

In addition to her many personal acts of kindness, Lett’s public leadership roles include having served as president of the Manchester NAACP and on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, such as the NH Black Women Health Project, the Greater Manchester Black Scholarship Foundation, and Haymarket Peoples Foundation.

Born and raised in Chicago, Lett, the eldest of six children, moved to northern New England in 1993 to continue her formal education.  She earned a master’s degree in community mental health and economic development, which prepared her to advocate for under-served people in her community.  Now retired from her professional position with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections as a Corrections Counselor Case Manager, Ms. Lett’s commitment to social justice remains resolute.

For her three decades of contributions to social justice and equity for the underserved and people of color, for her dedicated activism for the cause of racial justice, and for her untiring advocacy for healing through reparations, Lett is most deserving of the honor, Citizen of Year, said Boggis.

“Her achievements epitomize the spirit of the 2021 Black New England Conference, Crossing River Jordan: Healing Racial Wounds Through Accountability and Truth-Telling,” said Boggis.

The 15th Annual Black New England Conference, to be held virtually October 22 and 23, 2021, will focus on the role of religion and spirituality in healing Black trauma and the ways in which traditional spiritual and religious practices serve as sources of strength, hope, resilience, and healing for Black people in their centuries-long struggle for justice. Keynote speakers and panelists will explore paths forward from legacies of racism to collective accountability and collective healing

For information about the Black New England Conference and the Awards Dinner and to register for the events, visit the BHTNH website or call 603-570-8569.