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.
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.
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.
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.
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.