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Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: November 2020

Navigating Uncertainty

These are challenging and dangerous times. There is a pandemic with currently more than 100,000 people in the United States per day testing positive and more than 1,000 per day dying. While the economy for some is coming back somewhat if you use the stock market to measure success, there are still many, particularly people of color and those of lower incomes, who are being hit the hardest, with uncertainties of income, health care, housing, food, employment and much more. And, oh yes, there is an election that has just happened; While Joe Biden has been declared the victor to be the 46th president, the current president may very well cause chaos before his term ends and leave the country in danger from his actions and words and from some of his most ardent followers.

So what is next? To combat this uncertainty, there are many groups working to address social justice and racial injustice. In this edition of the e-newsletter, you’ll learn about the upcoming annual celebration honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. in our community, and how his legacy can help bring people together. You’ll get specifics how you and others can financially support the vital work of this Buncombe Community Remembrance Project (BCRP) and other groups that are addressing racial injustice. Additionally, there continue to be links to important news items that align with the work of this Project including updates of our work groups.

And finally, with this edition welcome Virginia Pett. Virginia brings a commitment to support the work of this Project by helping produce this e-newsletter. She has created the banner at the top for this and future issues.
As always, feel free to contact me should you have something you want to offer for these monthlies, but for now, please take care, stay safe, and in the spirit of the season, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Ron Katz,
Editor

One Way to Support this Project

In the last edition of this e-newsletter, Dr. Fox announced the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s partnership with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC). The Foundation has set up this fund on behalf of the Remembrance Project, and here is the link if you wish to support this important work. (Note: Make sure to hit the link for the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Fund in the first optional Question.) More than $25,000 of the $80,000 goal has been raised already!

  • The funding will help the Project:
  • Support its online presence, per the challenges that currently exist with COVID-19.
  • Reach out to national speakers that can address both the history of and modern-day violence against people of color. The hope is that our community has the opportunity to hear speakers from the 1619 Project, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and historians that can speak to the importance of understanding how our past has led us to the current hostile environment.
  • Offer scholarships to visit Montgomery, Alabama, the home of the Equal Justice Initiative, the Legacy Museum, and Memorial for Peace and Justice, for some who may be unable to afford the cost.
  • Bring one or more historical markers to acknowledge our county’s history of racial injustice as well as recognize the vital contributions that Blacks have made to our community.
  • And, ultimately, bring a replica of the pillar from Montgomery that lists the names of those who were lynched in Buncombe County.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project and the
2021 MLK Celebrations

As the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County celebrates 40 years of commemorations, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project will be featured throughout the weeklong list of events. All events, starting January 15, 2021, will be free to the public and shared online through YouTube. Community and organizational donations will continue to support the Youth Scholarship Program, as well as assisting with the completion of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. The Project seeks to bring the Historical Marker, established by the Equal Justice Initiative, to Asheville in recognition of three individuals of “record” that were lynched in Asheville/Buncombe County. (see more)

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Communication/PR Work Group: Check out this article highlighting the work of the BCRP from early October in the Mountain Xpress. Thank you, Thomas Calder! BCRP brochures are now available to share with the public and various groups throughout Asheville and Buncombe County. Anyone who wishes to have hard copies of the brochures should contact Dr. Joseph Fox with the number of requested brochures and the mailing address to send them.
  • Community Engagement Work Group: This work group is continuing to reach out to local artists of color for a 2021 art exhibit that will focus on past racial violence. Check out a current exhibit happening at the Asheville Art Museum here.
  • Lynching Research Work Group: This work group continues to research the three individuals of record that were lynched in Buncombe County (John Humphreys, Hezekiah Rankin, and Bob Brackett).
  • Essay Competition Work Group: The EJI Racial Justice Essay Contest tasks public high school students to examine a local topic of racial injustice and to discuss its legacy today. Student winners will be awarded up to $5,000 in scholarship funds and will be asked to share their work at the historical marker installation ceremony. The work group has assembled a committee of local educators from Buncombe County and Asheville City high schools and community members to plan for an essay contest kickoff in mid January 2021. Aside from coordinating logistical aspects of the contest, the committee will focus on community engagement and identifying potential social justice issues students might research. This committee’s next Zoom meeting is November 12th at 4:00 pm. Reach out to Eric Grant if you are interested in participating.

If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

Other Ways To Support Racial Equity & Justice

The BCRP works with other groups that are doing important racial equity/justice work in our community. Below are some opportunities to learn about and support these efforts.

  • In this email recently sent from the Racial Justice Coalition, they are asking people in Asheville to contact City Council members before their November 10th (tomorrow) meeting encouraging them to approve a package of $4 million to begin the funding of reparations. 
  • North Carolina 4 Black Lives asks people to pledge to support Black lives and divest from white supremacy. Go here to sign the pledge.
  • The Racial Justice Coalition is in the early phases of their Walk the Walk fundraising campaign. This is a great opportunity to financially support this important organization. 

Addressing Racial Inequities

As in each edition of this e-newsletter, here are articles, blogs, audios and videos that address racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

Pandemic Resources

As the pandemic continues to spread, it continues to be very important for all to have access to resources. Buncombe County has created this webpage that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information.

Photo taken and provided by woodyeisenbergphotos.com

Bryan Stevenson from the Equal Justice Initiative has been an outspoken advocate for those on death row. That has led to a career championing racial justice initiatives including the creation of the Memorial for Peace and Justice. The photo above is one of the startling and memorable images from the Memorial.

Some may have heard Mr. Stevenson speak at UNCA a couple years ago. This recent PBS interview offers some insights into who he is, what he has done, and the important work of EJI. 

40th Annual Commemoration Keynote Speaker: Dr. Oralene Graves Simmons

Dr. Oralene Graves Simmons is president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County. She was the founding inspiration for the Prayer Breakfast held each January in Asheville since 1982, when she worked as director of the Montford Community Center, where the first four breakfasts were held. In 1990 NC Gov. James G. Martin appointed Mrs. Simmons to co-chair the state Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, and two years later the federal MLK Commission honored her with the “Making of the King Holiday Award,” presented by Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

Mrs. Simmons is the great-granddaughter of Joseph Anderson, a slave who was held as collateral to guarantee a loan used to build Mars Hill College (now University) in Mars Hill, NC in 1856. One hundred and five years later, Oralene Graves became the first African American student enrolled at the college; since then, her daughter and granddaughter have also become alumnae.

After leaving the Montford Center in 1997, Mrs. Simmons led the YMI Cultural Center as a nonprofit organization under contract with Asheville Parks & Recreation. Since her retirement, in addition to leading the MLK Association, she has been active with the restoration committee for the Anderson Rosenwald School in Mars Hill and as a public speaker. In 2015 she was named an “Asheville Living Treasure,” and at the January 2016 Prayer Breakfast she received the Order of the Longleaf Pine, the state’s highest honor, presented on behalf of Gov. Pat McCrory. In August, 2017 the Leadership Asheville Forum presented her with its Circle of Excellence Award.

2020 Scholarship Winners

Eight young Buncombe County residents were awarded college scholarships by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County in 2020. These outstanding students have contributed to our community through their leadership skills and compassion, and they were honored to acknowledge their work and honor them as role models for other students. We congratulate them all!

Keilayn Tate

Keilayn Tate, a graduate of Reynolds High School, was awarded a $2,500 scholarship to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is the daughter of Christopher and Heather Tate, and wants to major in business with a minor in political science.

Imani Dozier

Imani Dozier, a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School, was awarded a $1,500 scholarship to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham. She is the daughter of Henry and Kalani Dozier, and intends to major in psychology with a minor in social work.

Catherine Davis

Catherine Davis, a graduate of Carolina Day School, was awarded a $1,500 scholarship to attend Furman University in Greenville, S.C. She is the daughter of Brian and Shelley Davis, and intends to major in mathematics and business.

Maria Iveth Carballo-Funes

Maria Iveth Carballo-Funes, a graduate of Reynolds High School, was awarded a $1,500
scholarship to attend Appalachian State University in Boone. She is the daughter of Cecilio Carballo and Maria Funes, and intends to major in biology with a minor in psychology and music.

Asenath Cunningham

Asenath Cunningham, a graduate of Reynolds High School, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to attend Murray State University in Murray, Ky. She is the daughter of John Cunningham and Patricia Reid, and intends to double major in political science and art.

Ayran Lee

Ayran Lee, a graduate of T.C. Roberson High School, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship to
attend North Greenville University in Greenville, S.C. He is the son of Tony and Stephanie Lee, and intends to major in engineering with a minor in mathematics.

Bronté Robinson

Bronté Robinson, a graduate of North Buncombe High School, was awarded a $500 scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the daughter of Lance and Teresa Robinson, and wants to major in journalism with a minor in women’s and gender studies.

Cedra Goodrum

Cedra Goodrum, a graduate of the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville, was awarded a $500 to attend North Carolina Central University in Durham. She is the Cedric and
Patricia Goodrum, and intends to major in psychology with a minor in Spanish.

Buncombe County Remembrance Project: October 2020

Welcome!

Welcome to another edition of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project (BCRP) e-newsletter!  Our readership continues to grow, and we want to thank all of you that are sharing the e-newsletters with others. 

We are excited to announce our partnership with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) that has set up a fund on behalf of the Remembrance Project. (see more about this partnership and how people can donate

Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Communication/PR Work Group: This work group has developed a BCRP brochure that is now available to share with the public and various groups throughout Asheville and Buncombe County. Anyone who wishes to have hard copies of the brochures should contact Dr. Joseph Fox with the number of requested brochures and the mailing address in which to send the brochures.  An electronic copy of the brochure is also available. (see more)
  • Community Engagement Work Group: This work group is reaching out to local artists of color for a 2021 art exhibit that will focus on past racial violence. The project will use art to reshape the narrative while providing truth telling through the use of art.
  • Museum Tour Work Group: This work group is reaching out to local Chamber of Commerce offices and museums to identify online tour options until it is possible to physically tour museums in person.
  • Lynching Research Work Group: This work group has been researching the three individuals of record that were lynched in Buncombe County (John Humphreys, Hezekiah Rankin, and Bob Brackett). They are also reaching out to individuals and organizations to find out about other acts of racial violence that have occurred throughout the history of Buncombe County. (see more)
  • Logistic/Historical Marker Site Location Work Group: In the September e-newsletter, a short survey pertaining to possible site locations was offered. Thirty-two (32) people responded, and the overwhelming first choice was the Vance Monument location for the Historical Marker. The Committee continues to seek input from the community pertaining to possible locations for the Historical Marker.
  • Buncombe County currently have an essay that they are working on pertaining to “Do the Right Thing…”  EJI’s (Equal Justice Initiative’s) essay prompts students to examine the history of a topic of racial injustice and to discuss its legacy today. Essays should explain the chosen topic using one or more specific historical events, explore how the injustice persists, and imagine solutions for a future free from racial injustice. This work group is currently seeking additional members as well as starting efforts to reach out to teachers and students pertaining to the essay competition.
  • Educational Outreach Work Group: This work group and the Community Engagement Work Group are currently being combined with the Communications/PR Workgroup. 
  • Compliance Work Group: This work group has received four EJI Guides that will be reviewed to make sure that the BCRP is aligned with any changes implemented by EJI since the inception of the Project.

If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

BCRP Seeks Proposals

The BCRP is seeking proposals for the following services:

  • YouTube Channel Manager
  • Healing/Truth Telling Workshops Facilitators

As the Project continues to pivot during the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has become painfully clear that community engagement strategies and community informational sessions must continue to rely on virtual online forums. (see more)

The Historical Marker and the Present-Day Movement

As members of the BCRP Steering Committee attempt to provide information about the Remembrance Project during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we do not want to lose sight of the historic importance of the Marker. The Committee recognizes that individuals and communities are struggling during this time not only from the Pandemic, but the racial divide that continues to separate the nation. As folks grapple with trying to understand the killings of Black and Brown women and men, the truth of the matter is this has been the pattern in our communities for more than 400 years. (see more

Addressing Racial Inequities

Here are some articles, blogs, audios and videos chosen that address racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

Are You Ready to Vote?

With 33 days before Election Day and 14 days before Early Voting starts, below are some important links to help you and others navigate voting this year. 

  1. To navigate voting, you need to have a plan in place AND implement that plan. Here are some key elements to help you have a successful experience voting this year.
  2. Once you know the races that are on your ballot, it is important to know where candidates stand on the issues. Here is a list of some nonpartisan guides to help you get that information.
  3. There are events that can offer important information as well on voting and the candidates. This calendar includes candidate forums and other events.
  4. There are some people who want to support efforts to promote voting. Here are some opportunities headed by nonpartisan organizations working to promote voting locally, regionally, statewide and nationally.  
  5. Videos can often share important messages. This YouTube channel, locally produced, offers two videos currently on voting. More are being developed. Please review and share.  

Each of the links above will be updated as needed prior to Election Day to provide the latest information, so if you want to keep abreast of the changes, save this e-newsletter or the links for those updates. Feel free to contact Ron Katz should you have questions. 

Pandemic Resources

These are challenging times. Buncombe County has created this webpage that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information.

About the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)

“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.” That is the opening sentence of the About webpage for EJI. 

While the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project looks to the history of racism, slavery, and lynching, it also looks forward to a reconciliation process. Through the Montgomery civil rights sites, including the Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice, all can see the history that has often been hidden, but acting on that history is crucial. 

The hope is that this work leads to a truth and reconciliation process in our community (and others). It takes willingness on the part of all to venture into these uncomfortable times in the past (and now the present) to make for a better day. Please join us and share with all the efforts that the Project and other groups are taking.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: Mars Hill Art Exhibit

While the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project e-newsletter typically comes out monthly on or near the first of the month, there are times where an “e-blast” will be sent about a call to action or an event. This is one such e-blast.

Ron Katz
Editor

Mars Hill Art Exhibit

The Weizenblatt Gallery’s first exhibition of the fall semester opened Wednesday (9/9), featuring works by Mars Hill University (MHU) faculty. One of the pieces is a painting by the Gallery’s director Skip Rodhe, “Say Their Names”, with portraits of 13 people killed by police or vigilantes. They are George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbury, Rekia Boyd, Sean Reed, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Yvette Smith, Ayanna Stanley-Jones, Dontre Hamilton, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and Tamir Rice

The Weizenblatt Gallery is located on the campus of MHU in Moore Auditorium. The show runs through Friday 9/25, 10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Friday.

Provide Your Input

In the September edition of this e-newsletter, there were two short questionnaires offered. If you weren’t able to complete one or both yet, please share your thoughts now. Thanks!

  1. The Logistics/Historical Marker Work Group is now looking at one or more appropriate places to install historical markers that are at the sites of racial terror lynchings or at sites of significance to the Black community. Please help us by taking this one-question poll of possible locations for the Project to consider for one or more sites where a historical marker should be erected. Please complete by September 15th.
  2. What do you think of this e-newsletter? Please take a couple minutes to complete this three question survey.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: September 2020

Welcome Current and New Subscribers!

Welcome to the September edition of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project e-newsletter. To our regular followers, we want to thank you for your continued support. We also want to welcome our new subscribers! We have experienced a number of new inquiries and individuals signing up for the e-newsletter in the last few weeks. We are especially appreciative of those who continue to share the e-newsletter with your family, friends, and coworkers. Remember that previous editions can be viewed by going to the MLK Association’s Website. (See more)

Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator

Call to Action – Hotel Moratorium

The Racial Justice Coalition is asking people to contact Asheville City Council to ask them to extend a moratorium on land taken during “urban renewal”. Get the details and the specific action they are requesting here.

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Logistics/Historical Marker Work Group: The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is now looking at one or more appropriate places to install historical markers that are at the sites of racial terror lynchings or at sites of significance to the Black community. Please help us by taking this one-question poll of possible locations for the Project to consider for one or more sites where a historical marker should be erected. Feel free to share this with others you think would want to offer their opinion. Please complete by September 15th
  • Communication/PR Work Group: What do you think of this e-newsletter? This is the 6th monthly edition, and we would like to know your thoughts. Please complete this three question survey to help us improve.

If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

Addressing Racial Inequities

Here are articles, blogs, audios and videos addressing racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

Important Training Opportunity

The Lenoir Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute (LREDI) is designed to support, inspire, and equip executives, non-profit leaders, educators, students, social activists and other community members who intend to spark change and cultivate better communities through their professional careers.

LREDI learning opportunities can be taken as stand-alone courses to enhance one’s professional profile, or taken as a suite to yield an Equitable Leadership Certificate. Registration is now open for September and October courses. Please visit this link to learn more about their wide array of courses, esteemed team of instructors, and online delivery methods.

More Excerpts from The Betrayal of the Negro

The June and July issues of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s e-newsletters provided some insights from the book, The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson, by Rayford W. Logan, as we look to understand the framework that has created a system of oppression, discrimination, white supremacy, and racially motivated violence. The June edition provided information that demonstrates how deep-rooted the systemic problem of racism is in the United States, while the July issue of the e-newsletter provided “Cliff Notes” of events and quotes that shaped the nation’s cultural norms. (see more)

2020 US Census

  • Way to take action: It’s not too late to respond to the census or to share this information encouraging others to do so. Here is the link to take action; people can complete the census online, by phone, or through the mail. Please share!
  • Census and Nonprofits: Through the Dogwood Health Trust, funding is now available for nonprofits to help people complete the US Census in the amount of $10 per person. Go here for the details. 
  • Want to know the “self-response rate” for North Carolina? You can find it here, and from this link you can also find our state’s rank, your county’s rate, and more.

Are You Ready to Vote?

With 63 days before Election Day (November 3rd), it is time to develop your plan to vote. Check out this link to put your plan together and get answers to your questions.

One of the best resources in our state for voting is Democracy North Carolina. This link provides important dates and resources this organization provides. 

You or others may have questions about voting this year. A first choice is to call your Board of Elections. The general number for the Buncombe County Board of Elections is (828) 250-4200. If you are in another county, you can get their phone number here. If you want, feel free to email Ron Katz with any questions you have. If he doesn’t know the answer, he will do the research to find it and get back to you

Finally, one very key element is to act early. The sooner an absentee ballot request form is completed and submitted, the sooner you will get your absentee ballot. Then, rather than waiting until the last minute, complete your ballot and get it to the Board of Elections either by mail, by going to the Board of Elections office or by dropping it off at Early Voting. And, if you feel comfortable and safe to do so, vote in-person during Early Voting. There are 16 sites and 17 days in Buncombe County. If you or others are in another NC county, you can find your One-Stop Early Voting sites and schedule here

Don’t be discouraged by the rhetoric and misinformation. For some, their goal is indeed to suppress your vote. Don’t let anything stop you from voting!  John Lewis didn’t and wouldn’t. 

Pandemic Resources

These are challenging times. Buncombe County has created this webpage that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information.

“Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble”

In the last edition, this e-newsletter included some memories of the accomplishments of Rev. C. T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis. What both contributed to our country and world needs to be remembered, and we offer several of those links again:

  • The Detroit Youth Choir offer this wonderful version of Glory in this moving video
  • At the memorial in the Capitol this past Monday for him, Congressman Lewis was still able to inspire after Speaker Pelosi yielded the floor to him.
  • Oprah Winfrey shares this video recognizing the contributions of Rev. C. T. Vivian. 
  • In this segment from CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday, historian Jon Meacham shares his opinion about John Lewis, the book he wrote about him, and what he expects all of us to do: VOTE
  • And finally, when Congressman Lewis knew he was going to die, he penned an essay that he asked to be published on the day of his funeral. This is his call to all to continue the work of him and other civil rights leaders to acknowledge past and build the Beloved Community. Here is that essay, narrated by his friend, Morgan Freeman. 

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: August 2020

Remembrance Project More Important than Ever

Welcome to the August edition of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project e-newsletter! As we continue the work of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project, we must remain focused on the importance of the changing narrative of racial violence aimed at communities of color in order for history not to repeat itself. The recent months of discussing the Vance Monument, as well as the recent losses of Rev. C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, point to the fact that much work is still needed. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s overall goal is to acknowledge and remember individuals lynched in Buncombe County. Specific goals are tied to more accurately reflect the history of racial and economic injustice and inequities while fostering healing from the trauma surrounding racial violence. As we move forward with the project, one of the overarching questions should be related to the root causes of racial violence and systemic discrimination. (See more)

Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Logistics/Historical Marker Work Group: This work group has started the process of identifying possible site locations for the Historic Marker to be placed in the Asheville/Buncombe County area. The community’s input is very important in this process. The Historic Marker is composed of a double-sided rectangular panel about 42 inches by 38 inches. The poles are 5.5 to 6 feet tall; however, the size, height, shape, and color can be adjusted by local communities’ requests to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The EJI usually uses a black or blue backdrop, with gold, silver, or white lettering. (See more)
  • Essay Contest Work Group: The Racial Justice Essay Contest is in association with the Remembrance Community Project Historical Marker Placement. Once the Historical Marker text has been finalized and EJI has received site authorization, a community may commence the official EJI contest for local public high school students, with winners receiving up to a $5,000 scholarship award. (See more)
  • Communication/PR Work Group: This work group is planning a remembrance of those that have been lost to racial violence as well as the loss of great community leaders, “Say Their Names”. They are looking for alternative ways to celebrate these lives during this COVID-19 pandemic. The work group is currently identifying ways to honor the lives and legacy of individuals while keeping community members safe and well. The planning committee will be led by Dr. Oralene Simmons. If you would like to be on that committee, email her. More information will be forthcoming as the work group weighs various alternative memorial program formats such as Zoom and YouTube.

If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

Addressing Racial Inequities

  1. Buncombe County & Reparations: The Racial Justice Coalition is asking the Buncombe County Commission to join with the City of Asheville in supporting reparations at its August 4th meeting. See how you can take action here.
  2. Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church offered a panel presentation last evening with members of the Racial Justice Coalition about the need for reparations in Asheville & Buncombe County. You can view the presentation here.
  3. Here are articles, blogs, audios and videos addressing racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

Updates and Opportunities to Learn and Take Action

  • New Institute Started: Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville, in partnership with Aisha Adams, has created the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute (LREDI). The LREDI curriculum is designed to cultivate positive social transformation by equipping participants with the strategies, tools, and practices necessary to build workplaces and communities that cultivate diversity, inclusivity, and equity.To express interest or see a list of classes being offered, click here.
  • Poor People’s Campaign: They had a great turnout for last Saturday’s NC Poor People’s Campaign open house — more than 300 people on the Zoom call, and more than 40 in the Western Circle breakout room. For their full report, go here.
  • African American Heritage Trail Update: This project, as proposed by the River Front Development Group in 2018 and funded by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA), is in the early stages of development. The Heritage Trail is conceived as no less than 19 sites that will present stories from historic African American communities by way of themes that include community life, entrepreneurship, faith, entertainment, and education. (See more)

Excerpts from “The Betrayal of the Negro”

July’s issue of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s e-newsletter provided some insights from the book, The Betrayal of the Negro: From Rutherford B. Hayes to Woodrow Wilson, by Rayford W. Logan. Authors such as Logan provide much of the narratives that have been left out of history books used in public and private educational institutions. History is an important aspect of painting the true picture of the development of system biases, discriminatory practices, and racial violence that have been the norm for the entire history of the United States. While enslaving individuals, the narrative of superiority was sown in order to justify the enslavement. This edition of the e-newsletter will provide “cliff notes” of sorts listing events and quotes from Logan’s book. (See more)

Census and Nonprofits

Through the Dogwood Health Trust, funding is now available for nonprofits to help people complete the US Census in the amount of $10 per person. Go here for the details.

Are You Ready to Vote?

With 94 days before Election Day (November 3rd), many people may have unanswered questions or uncertainty how the election will happen this fall. A statewide nonpartisan organization, You Can Vote, can help you and others get the answers you need to navigate voting this year.

Their pledge to vote campaign is more than a pledge. They will provide you (and others) with the latest information on the process for voting, check your voter registration, help you register or update your registration if needed, get your sample ballot, and more.

Please share this campaign with others.

If you have questions about voting, here is a FAQ sheet from You Can Vote as well as this one offered through a local voting e-newsletter. If you still have questions, email Ron Katz, and he will research your question and get back to you with the answer.

Finally, if you are interested in voting by mail or even considering voting by mail, You Can Vote offers this link to help you address this two-step process – first, by requesting an absentee ballot.

Pandemic Resources

These are challenging times. Buncombe County has created this webpage that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information.

“Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble”

In past issues, this e-newsletter has closed by highlighting the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI has created the blueprint and the map for the work the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is following. However, with the passing of Rev. C. T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, this e-newsletter departs for this issue by acknowledging their lives and includes some of the tributes that have been accorded them:

  • The Detroit Youth Choir offer their version of Glory in this moving video.
  • At the memorial in the Capitol this past Monday for him, Congressman Lewis was still able to inspire after Speaker Pelosi yielded the floor to him.
  • Oprah Winfrey shares this video recognizing the contributions of Rev. C. T. Vivian.
  • Eugene Robinson shared this column about Congressman Lewis and how he should be remembered.
  • Congressman Lewis has been an inspirational figure, but he also had a playful side, and one that brought smiles to those who knew him, especially when he danced.
  • And finally, when Congressman Lewis knew he was going to die, he penned an essay that he asked to be published on the day of his funeral. Here is that essay, narrated by his friend, Morgan Freeman.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: July 2020

Welcome to the July E-newsletter!

Welcome to the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project July e-newsletter!  The leadership team realizes that our communities are dealing with the continued racial violence that has plagued the country since its inception, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that it is even more important for us to continue the work of the Remembrance Project during this most difficult time. As our communities struggle with the impact of the pandemic (sickness, loss of jobs, housing issues, access to food and supplies, food insecurities, the feeling of isolation, stress, addiction, abuse, mental health issues, etc.), coupled with the killing of Black people, the goal of the Remembrance Project of dealing with our racial past is placed in the spotlight. This “perfect storm” of events has forced the nation to see the invisible portion of racial and social inequities that have not been visible to those whose privilege has kept them blinded from the life experiences of Black and Brown communities.See more

Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Museum Tours Work GroupWhile we can’t travel to Montgomery yet to visit the Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice and other civil rights sites, we can still learn from the Equal Justice initiative (EJI). The pandemic has shown the need to learn and act. This short video produced recently from EJI talks about the legacy of racial injustice, and this video, from 2017, is taken from when the Legacy Museum first opened.. 
  • Communication/PR Work Group:The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project continues to offer this monthly e-newsletter. Many of us are seeing the increasing awareness of people, especially those who are white, of our country’s history and present reality of racial injustice and white supremacy. That awareness has resulted in what may be a tipping point in getting action to support those who have been impacted and oppressed – black, Native American, other people of color, LGBTQ, women to name just some. This issue and future ones will offer ways to learn and take action, especially in the two-pager produced each issue of relevant articles, posts, videos and audios.

     If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

Opportunities to Learn and Take Action

  • Vance Monument Task Force: The City of Asheville and Buncombe County will be taking applications to serve on this Task Force. The County application will remain open until July 7th. For details, go here. The City announced its process here, with applications due by July 10th
  • The Truth about Confederate Monuments. “Taking down these monuments will not cure the problem, but it is at least an indication that we are ready to deal with the truth.” That is the quote from Jeffery Robinson from the ACLU at the end of this short video. This is an important tool to educate people about the monuments. The full version of this talk is available here.
  • Budget Workshops: Want to learn how government at different levels sets their budget? Just Economics is offering an online series of workshops starting tomorrow, July 2nd at 5 pm. Get information on each of the workshops here. To register, go here
  • New Institute to Start: Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville, in partnership with Aisha Adams,  announces the founding of the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity and Diversity Institute (LREDI), which is set to debut in late summer 2020. The LREDI curriculum is designed to cultivate positive social transformation by equipping participants with the strategies, tools, and practices necessary to build workplaces and communities that cultivate diversity, inclusivity, and equity.To express interest or see a list of classes being offered, click here.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center: Unfortunately, there is much hate in the world, and this organization has been a leader in identifying hate groups and taking action to stop their efforts. Their website offers a variety of resources and materials for understanding their important work. 
  • Poor People’s Campaign: Despite the pandemic, this “Moral March” became a “Moral Revival”. Reverend Barber reported that more than two and a half million people from all across the country and around the world viewed the program on Facebook alone. This is only the beginning, and the Poor People’s platform is offered here as a critical step to remedy poverty and injustice. This video from Democracy Now includes an interview Rev. Barber.

Addressing Racial Inequities

 Here are some articles, blogs, audios and videos addressing racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

This Year’s Elections

With a little over months before Election Day (November 3rd), many people may have unanswered questions or uncertainty how the election will happen this fall. A statewide nonpartisan organization, You Can Vote, can help you and others get the answers you need to navigate voting this year.

Their pledge to vote campaign is more than a pledge. They will provide you (and others) with the latest information on the process for voting, check their voter registration, help them register or update their registration if needed, get their sample ballot, and more. Please share this campaign with others.

If you have questions about voting, here is a FAQ sheet from You Can Vote as well as this one offered through a local voting e-newsletter. If you still have questions, email Ron Katz, and he will research your question and get back to you with the answer.  

The Importance of the Census

Have you completed your 2020 Census questionnaire? Now, more than ever, it is critical that you be counted for your community. Census data is used to distribute over 675 billion federal dollars each year for things like roads, schools, hospitals, and emergency services. It is safe and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Go to www.my2020census.gov and click “Start Questionnaire”. 

You do NOT need a unique ID to complete; simply put in your home address and begin. Don’t have access to a computer? You can also call 844-330-2020, and a Census employee will assist you with your questionnaire. Do your part for our community, and complete your Census questionnaire today!

Pandemic Resources

These are challenging times. Buncombe County has created this webpage that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information.

Equal Justice Initiative

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.

 Here is a copy of a recent report titled “Reconstruction in America: Racial Violence After the Civil War, 1865-1876”, which documents nearly 2,000 more lynchings by white mobs. Copies are also available for purchase for $2 here

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: June 2020

A Special Message in These Times

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project looks to the history of our country and Buncombe county for the horrific times when lynching of African-Americans seemed almost commonplace. Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative have provided with the Legacy Museum and others have written and spoken how slavery and lynching have evolved into mass incarceration, but the murder of George Floyd and so many others beg the question whether lynching still continues in this country.

Yesterday, there were many powerful messages offered. Here are two. Please read, watch and hear. 

  1. The Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, President of the NC NAACP, sent this email to many connected to the NAACP throughout our state. 
  2. Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III in Chicago shared his call to action in this video.

Communicating in the Era of COVID-19

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Steering Committee is still working during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they very much want to make sure that we are reaching out especially to our communities of color and allies. We are not only striving to keep you informed and engaged, but we welcome any additional thoughts that you have regarding strategies to obtain feedback and participation from the community. One of our strategies has been the creation of this e-newsletter. 

We have over 170 folks on the distribution list.  Please let us know if you have friends, family, and/or associates that are not receiving the monthly e-newsletter, but they would like to be included.  We are also asking folks like you to continue to share information with your key stakeholders. See more

Ron Katz
Editor

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Community Engagement Work GroupRev. Damita Wilder and Rebecca Brothers co-chair this work group. They are examining additional strategies to enhance community engagement in addition to the work being accomplished by the Communications/PR Work Group. One of the Community Stakeholders’ Committee members, representing Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), is currently working with the Committee in order to explore ways art can be utilized in shaping the narrative around racial discrimination, inequities, and contemporary racial trauma.
  • Lynching Research Work Group: Samantha Cole leads this work group. The three members have each taken one of the reported, official lynchings (John Humphreys, Hezekiah Rankin, and Bob Bratchett) to provide a timeline of events that led up to the lynchings, as well as researching local articles pertaining to the lynchings. Here is the piece on Bob Bratchett from Jim Stokely, a local author and researcher.   
  • Museum Tours Work GroupUnder the leadership of Yolanda Adams, this work group was planning a trip to Montgomery to visit the Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice. The work group is currently looking at strategies to encourage a virtual tour, as well as the possibilities of a late fall trip to Montgomery. 
  • Communication/PR Work Group:The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project has continued its work during the COVID-19 pandemic utilizing email, the MLK Website, and Zoom meetings as much as possible. Our goal is to keep the momentum from several Community Stakeholders’ and Steering Committee’s meetings moving forward. One of our strategies has been the creation of this monthly e-newsletter edited by Ron Katz, one of the co-chairs. Dr. Oralene Simmons, the second co-chair, is currently working on an article that will be featured in the Urban News as well as distributed to other media sources. See more

     If you are interested in helping any of the Project’s work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox

Memorial Day and Juneteenth: The Past as Prologue

W.E.B. DuBois raised the issue in his book, The Souls of Black Folk, pertaining to Negros being the unsolved problem of white folks. The book was originally published in 1903, but it provides the framework to understand how the perceptions of the past are constantly shaping the narrative for the future. Rayford W. Logan, author of The Betrayal of the Negro, stated, “The problem of determining the place that Negroes should occupy in American life was the most difficult of the racial problems that confronted the American government and people after the Civil War” (p. 3). See more

This Year’s Elections

With a little over 5 months before Election Day (November 3rd), there are  unanswered questions and uncertainty. There are many good organizations and resources that are providing answers to those questions that bring a better understanding during these challenging times.

One resource is a free, nonpartisan Voting e-newsletter that comes out typically twice per month that is free and available to all in western North Carolina. Here is the latest issue. If you would like to learn more or subscribe, contact Ron Katz.

Pandemic Resources

These are challenging times. Both Asheville and Buncombe County have created webpages that provide important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information. 

The Importance of the Census

Have you completed your 2020 Census questionnaire? Now, more than ever, it is critical that you be counted for your community. Census data is used to distribute over 675 billion federal dollars each year for things like roads, schools, hospitals, and emergency services. It is safe and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Go to www.my2020census.gov and click “Start Questionnaire”. 

You do NOT need a unique ID to complete; simply put in your home address and begin. Don’t have access to a computer? You can also call 844-330-2020, and a Census employee will assist you with your questionnaire. Do your part for our community, and complete your Census questionnaire today!

Racial Inequities

 Here are some articles, blogs, audios and videos addressing racial inequities. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues.

Equal Justice Initiative

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. Democracy Now offered this video about the opening of the Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice back in spring, 2018.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: May 2020

Welcome!

Thanks for your interest in the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. You are one of more than 150 people who have expressed such an interest.

This is the second issue of this e-newsletter. When the Project first got started, it held regular meetings, but COVID-19 has forced every one of us to adapt. It is important that you and others in our community know the work continues, and this e-newsletter will be one of the ways to inform you of the progress of this Project. This e-newsletter will also include timely information on relevant topics. For example, you’ll see information on the census and racial justice/equity in this issue.

As mentioned in the premiere issue from Dr. Joseph Fox, our Project Coordinator, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County is the lead organization in partnership with over twenty community-based organizations located throughout the county. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is governed by a Steering Committee composed of representatives from seventeen organizations and a larger Community Stakeholders’ Group.

What is key is that the Project’s work is being conducted utilizing a number of work groups.If you are interested in supporting this effort or joining one of the work groups, let Dr. Fox know. If you have something you wish to contribute to this e-newsletter, feel free to contact the editor. Thanks for all you do, and please stay safe.

Ron Katz
Editor

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

  • Lynching Research Work Group: Thanks to resources from the North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library in Downtown Asheville, this work group has been able to access newspaper records covering the three racial terror lynching cases confirmed by researchers at the Equal Justice Initiative. (Here is a 2015 Carolina Public Press article that offers some details about a number of lynchings in WNC including the three from Buncombe County.) Work group members used the records to produce timelines for the three lynchings, helping identify avenues for further archival research. These include details about the victims, lynching suspects, and names of members of law enforcement and government associated with surrounding events.
  • Historical Marker Work Group: The Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Bryan Stevenson in 1989, was established to educate the public about mass incarceration, excessive punishment of prisoners, and to shine an equity lens on racial and economic disparities existing in communities of color. Click here to read the report for this work group.  
  • Communication/PR Work Group: This is the second e-newsletter for the Project. Starting in May, the plan is for these e-newsletters to come out monthly. If you missed the first issue, you can see it here.

If you are interested in helping any of these work groups (or have questions), please contact Dr. Joseph Fox

The Importance of the Census

Have you completed your 2020 Census questionnaire? Now, more than ever, it is critical that you be counted for your community. Census data is used to distribute over 675 billion federal dollars each year for things like roads, schools, hospitals, and emergency services. It is safe and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Go to www.my2020census.gov and click “Start Questionnaire”. 

You do NOT need a unique ID to complete; simply put in your home address and begin. Don’t have access to a computer? You can also call 844-330-2020. and a Census employee will assist you with your questionnaire. Do your part for our community, and complete your Census questionnaire today!

Racial Inequities

Here are some articles, audios and videos addressing racial inequities. These are not easy issues to talk about, but groups like the Racial Equity Collective, Building Bridges, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association, and others have been addressing them in our community. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section will offer some “solutions” or efforts that are trying to positively address these issues. 

Equal Justice Initiative

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, watch this important documentary, True Justice.

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