Retiring national archivist tells White House they ‘better not hire another white male’

On Monday, U.S. National Archivist David Ferriero, who is set to retire from his position in April, said that he urged the Biden White House not to appoint a white man to follow up in his job.

While Ferriero made no mention of what his replacement’s qualifications should be, he emphasized that the person should fit a certain demographic.

“That’s advice I’ve given to the White House already: that you better not hire another white male. … We’ve had 10 white males,” he said during an interview conducted as part of the National Archives annual Sunshine Week event.

Just moments before, the moderator of the interview, David Rubenstein, had noted there has never been a female national archivist. 

Later on in the interview when Ferriero was pressed on why he is choosing to retire since there is not a fixed term designation for the national archivist post, Ferriero pointed to the fact that he wanted the Biden administration “to be the administration that replaces me.”

In a statement appearing on the National Archives website, Ferriero wrote, “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve my country once more, this time to lead the Executive Branch agency charged with ensuring that the American people can hold their government accountable and learn from the past by accessing the records of our country.” 

In an earlier Sunshine Week discussion, Ferriero pointed to his work to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at the National Archives.

Additionally under his leadership, the National Archives launched a task force on racism, which went on to release a report that determined the National Archives Rotunda is an example of “systemic racism” that “lauds wealthy White men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC (Black Indigenous and other People of color), women, and other communities.”

Later in the year, in response to the task force’s findings, the National Archives placed a “Harmful Language Alert” atop its entire catalog, which includes America’s founding documents: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.




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