Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: Premiere Issue
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project e-newsletter! We would like to express much gratitude to Ron Katz for spearheading this effort to keep our community abreast of this initiative that recognizes individuals lynched in Buncombe County between 1877 – 1950. The project is in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) research that has documented over 4,400 African Americans that were lynched during that time period in at least twenty states. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County is the lead organization of this project in partnership with over twenty community-based organizations located throughout the county. The EJI. located in Montgomery, Alabama, states, “The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”
The focus of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is to more accurately reflect the history of racial and economic injustice and inequity in Buncombe County; provide safe spaces for healing from the silent trauma surrounding racial violence; foster local conversations and foster community healing; and to provide events that utilize truth telling, educational programming and reconciliation that lead to transformational narratives. The Project seeks to recognize the three individuals thus far who have been identified as being lynched during the researched time period with the installation of a historical marker in Asheville/Buncombe County. A second component of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is claiming/placing a Memorial monument in recognition of individuals lynched in the County, as well as soil collection that reflects the history of lynching and modern-day challenges of racial inequality.
The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is governed by a Steering Community composed of representatives from seventeen organizations and a larger Community Stakeholders’ Group. The Project’s work is being conducted utilizing a number of work groups that we hope you will be interested in participating in as we continue this most important work!
Read on to determine your level of involvement. And again, welcome to this first edition of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project e-newsletter!
Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator
The Coronavirus and Our Project
All of us have been and are continuing to be impacted by the pandemic that is affecting our community, state, nation and world. We understand that under the circumstances, many of us are focused on taking care of our immediate circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. We do not wish nor do we ask you to do anything at this time that might jeopardize what you need to do.
This first issue of this e-newsletter has been created to ensure that you and more than 140 others thus far who have expressed an interest in this Project are “kept in the loop” on its progress. We are also including many of our elected officials and community leaders as well.
If you feel called to help at this time, we would welcome your support, but for now, updating you on our progress is our main goal. Thank you!
What Does Racial Healing Mean to You?
This Project is interested in learning what you think about racial inequity and healing. Please take a few minutes to answer the questions on this survey. Thanks for your consideration!
What are the Work Groups?
When the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project first got started, those attending noted two critical elements that needed to be in place. First, there was a need for a group to guide the Project, and the steering committee Dr. Fox referenced above provides that direction. However, there is much work that needs to be done. That is where the work groups fit in.
Here is a listing of the work groups that have been created. Please take some time to read. If you are interested in helping any of these work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox
Many of these work groups are moving forward on efforts to address their responsibilities. Here is information on what some of the work groups have done or are doing at this time.
As Dr. Fox noted in his welcome, this Project is made possible under the guidance of this extraordinary organization. Some of you may have visited Montgomery, Alabama and seen the Legacy Museum, the Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the new Legacy Pavilion that were created by Bryan Stevenson, the founder of this organization. Still others may have seen the recent film, Just Mercy, based on the book of the same name.
It is important this organization is acknowledged for the leadership it provides not only to this Project but to other projects and efforts to address the history and reality of racial inequities throughout the United States. If you are interested in hearing more about Bryan Stevenson, check out this TED Talk.