A New Year & Administration
This past month, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored for the 40th year in our community. Who better to give the keynote address than Dr. Oralene Simmons, founder and president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County? This issue includes a link to the annual Prayer Breakfast that was held virtually as well as other videos from the week.
This edition also includes information to help all navigate this pandemic. Of special note is the zoom webinar on Tuesday evening, February 2nd, starting at 6 pm. See below for details, and register here to attend.
This past month also saw the Inauguration of the United States’ 46th president, Joseph Biden, and the first African-American, Asian-American woman vice-president, Kamala Harris. While that historic day also included this poem from Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, it was held under tight security because of the Capitol riot just two weeks earlier.
It is amazing what can happen in a month, and the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project continues its important work to address racial injustice and bring about the Beloved Community that Dr. King so often evoked. It is hoped that this edition of the e-newsletter, like others, gives you important information on this critical work and provides a way for you and others to participate if you wish. Nearly 300 people are on the e-distribution list, and we welcome all who want to subscribe and support this effort.
If you are interested in learning more about our work groups, go here. If you have questions or want to join a work group, contact Dr. Joseph Fox. Thanks for your interest. Feel free to share any part or all of this e-newsletter with others.
African American (AA)/Black Community COVID-19 Response Team – Workshop
A team of academics, practitioners, and organizers are working together throughout North Carolina to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project, commonly called the I-TEAM, stands for Increasing Trustworthiness through Engaged Action and Mobilization. (Read more)
To register for the workshop on February 2nd, starting at 6 pm, go here.
How do you build trust with people who want to know what is being put into their body, especially when those same people have been deceived for years? Hear Charlotte native and singer Anthony Hamilton offer his thoughts how to approach people of color to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Read the article above for an important workshop and the article below for answers to your questions.
Questions & Answers – COVID-19 & the Vaccine
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified in people. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the new virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
Here are frequently asked questions and answers about COVID-19 clinical studies. Here is a list of important resources from the NC Department of Health and Human Services that is working to reach historically marginalized populations about reducing risks for COVID-19.
Hit the link above for the 40th Annual Prayer Breakfast for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County. Of special note is the keynote address by the founder, Dr. Oralene Simmons, which starts at 40 minutes.
There are many videos that were presented during this historic Celebration week thanks to the good work of Aisha Adams Media. You can access each through the MLK YouTube channel or find them organized by day and/or topic here.
Work Group Reports
The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project has several work groups that are moving the Project along. Below is the latest news from two of those groups.
Essay Competition Work Group: After a year of preparation, the EJI Racial Justice Essay Contest kicked off on Monday, January 19th. Students across Asheville City and Buncombe County public high schools are researching and writing about local, historical racial justice issues, how those issues manifest in present-day injustices, and how those injustices can “be overcome in order to change the challenges our nation is facing today.” Winners will receive up to $5,000 in scholarships and will be asked to share their work at the historical marker installation ceremony. Special thanks to the teacher committee from both school districts. For more information or if you know of a local public high school student who might be interested, find out more here.
Communications/PR Work Group: The work of the Project depends on this community coming forward to learn and support this effort. Please feel free to share some or all of this e-newsletter with those you think may be interested. For those wishing to subscribe or see past editions, go here.
Addressing Racial Inequities
Here are articles, blogs, audios and videos focused on racial injustice. In addition to noting examples of inequities, this section offers efforts to positively address these issues locally, regionally, statewide or nationally.
Rev. Tami Forte Logan from Faith 4 Justice is offering “What’s Love Got to Do with It? White Supremacy in the Church”, a free online event on Saturday, February 13th, from noon to 2 pm. Get details and registration information here.
The Death Penalty is one of the ultimate injustices. Please note the following ways to learn and take action:
- Way to Take Action: For many, one of the most unjust actions governments can take is to take a life through the death penalty. Nationally, this effort is asking the Biden Administration in its first 100 days to abolish the death penalty including three actions you can take.
- “Racist Roots: The Origin of NC’s Death Penalty” is a powerful collection of articles. Go here to start reading about the past (and recent past) and how NC’s death penalty was built on racism.
- There are alternatives to the death penalty, and this website from the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty shares what is happening in NC to end it.
- NC CRED (The North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System) offers symposiums. Their next one is “Reckoning with Racial Terror: Slavery, the Death Penalty, and Mass Incarceration”. For details and registration for this event on February 5th, 1 pm, go here.
13th, 14th, and 15 Amendments
by Sarah Thornburg
The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified in the five years following the Civil War and became known as the “Reconstruction Amendments.” These Amendments and other federal legislation enacted during this time sought to redress the inequities of slavery, and thereby “reconstruct” the American South as it was brought back into the Union. (Read more)
The above is the third video from the Equal Justice Initiative that we have included in an issue of this e-newsletter over the last 3 months. It is about Anthony Ray Hinton, who after 30 years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit, was finally exonerated and freed.
This is a difficult story to hear, but it is important to tell. The Lynching in America website from EJI is dedicated to sharing the history of this era of racial terrorism.
Financially Supporting the BCRP
The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s continues its partnership with the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC). The Foundation has set up a 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.)
The funding will help the Project: (See more.)
As the pandemic continues to spread, it remains very important for all to have access to the necessary resources and information. BCRP wants to ensure all have that easy access and has included several above and the ones below.
Buncombe County has created this webpage that provides important information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page that provides valuable information. Please take care, and stay safe.
Art offers a perspective that touches people in a different and special way. This photo from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice notes the thousands of victims that were lynched whose names are not known.
This video and music from the Asheville Symphony is titled “Reflections of Healing” and addresses the struggles around racism this past year but honors all victims of this plague.