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Tag: Pandemic Resources

Buncombe County Remembrance Project: May 2021

What the Project is About

Knowing the true history of our city’s, county’s, state’s and nation’s past can be challenging. Many of us have been sheltered, hearing only a small fraction of what truly happened.
It has been stated that history is written by the victors, not by the victims, so many don’t know very much about those who have been oppressed and, in many cases, continue to be oppressed. Much of that learning requires access to information, and it can be difficult to get that history by ourselves.
That is where the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project can fit in, especially here in Buncombe County. The goals of this Project include giving people access and opportunities to learn as well as take action. In this edition as well as in past ones, you will see opportunities shared through video, essay contests, information about health care during the pandemic, and more.      With 300 subscribers to this e-newsletter, we also hope that you and others will consider supporting this effort through your time, talent and/or treasure. For example:

  • If you wish to learn more about our work groups, go here.
  • If you have questions or want to join a work group, contact Dr. Joseph Fox.
  • If you would like to financially support the Project, check out the article below about the collaboration with the Community Foundation of WNC.

As always, sharing this information with your contacts is welcomed and encouraged. Thanks for your interest.

Ron Katz
Editor


Essay Contest

“Police brutality may not be considered lynching but it is killing black people, and it does raise fear in black communities.” This quote typifies the learning for many of our local high school students who participated in the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) Racial Justice Essay Contest.

This contest challenged area high school students to write about local, regional, and national racial justice issues. More than 50 students from Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools submitted essays, a total that exceeded participation numbers from any remembrance project in recent years. Most impressive, according to EJI, was the number of different participating schools. This means that students throughout our community learned about how justice issues impact our communities. (Read this entire story here.)


This Divided Land

 Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity created this video, “This Divided Land”, to share the history of Asheville’s racist past in housing, with deed covenants restricting the sale of properties to Blacks often being included.

The Vance Monument Removal

The recommendation of the Vance Monument Task Force and the approval of that recommendation by Asheville City Council has led to some controversy. There have been many letters to the editor written in both the Asheville Citizen-Times and Mountain XpressHere is one that the editor of this e-newsletter wrote that was published on April 23rd in the Citizen-Times.

While some people disagreed with the recommendation, it is clear that the Task Force worked hard, and this report of what they did to reach their decision notes those members did not take this responsibility lightly. Special thanks goes to all 12 members of the task force, particularly to co-chairs Dr. Oralene Simmons and Deborah Miles, for their service to this community.


Terror Lynching in America

Bryan Stevenson narrates “Terror Lynching in America”, an overview of what the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) was doing back in the fall of 2016. In the video, Stevenson talks about the desire for EJI to build a memorial to those lynched; this was achieved in 2019. He also mentions the installation of historical markers throughout the country to acknowledge lynchings. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project will be one of those communities to do so, with three markers tentatively set to be placed this fall. 

These difficult stories are offered because they are important to tell. The Lynching in America website from EJI is dedicated to sharing the history of this era of racial terrorism.  


Important News/Events/Stories

This e-newsletter not only covers what the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is doing but also offers other news, events and stories that align with its work. Here are some items that are noteworthy.

  1. As in each edition, here are articles, blogs, audios and videos focused on racial injustice and inequity and efforts to make positive change locally, regionally, statewide and/or nationally.
  2. Calls to Action: So much of the work addressing racial justice is interconnected with other social justice issues. Here is a list of ways you can take action to get elected leaders and others to make positive change. 
  3. Tools to Support COVID-19 Prevention: The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) has launched their community health newsletter. It provides resources to support the health of Black, African American, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, and other communities of color during the pandemic and beyond. Here is the April issue. Please share this information with all who may be interested
  4. Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment: The Biden Administration has created a special enrollment period for health insurance that has now been extended until August 15th. The American Rescue Plan now provides lower cost health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Watch this 2+ minute video from Pisgah Legal Service that highlights new benefits and connect with PLS here
  5. Grant OpportunityHealthier Together, a public-private partnership between NCDHHS and NC Counts Coalition, is releasing a Request for Proposals for community-based organizations to apply for grants ranging from $5,000 – $20,000 (or up to $50,000 for collaborative proposals). Grants will support groups that will help North Carolina achieve its goal of delivering equitable access to vaccines. Get further details here. Please note the deadline to submit is May 14th
  6. Vaccinating those who are homebound: Buncombe County Public Health is providing COVID-19 vaccinations at no charge to individuals who are homebound or have difficulty getting out of their home to access vaccines. They can also vaccinate caregivers in the home at the same time. If individuals would like to be added to the list for homebound vaccination, they (or their caregivers) should contact the Buncombe County Ready Team at 828-419-0095 and provide their name, address, date of birth and phone number. Ready Team staff group the individuals on the list by location in the county and contact individuals by phone to schedule them for vaccinations.
  7. Scholarship information: For students who attend Buncombe County or Asheville City Schools and who will be attending A-B Tech, MAHEC and Asheville Rotary hope to broaden their ability to support students wishing to continue their education in the future. It is a straightforward process for students to perhaps be awarded $1,000 for their next step in education. Get details and the application here. Deadline is May 14th
  8. Faith leaders and County government: Buncombe County government is seeking to connect directly with faith leaders. Check this email recently sent out from Leonard Jones from Community Engagement for details and to share information about your faith community. 
  9. Check out this opportunity for the Young Naturalists Program to assist at the WNC Nature Center. Deadline to apply is May 21st
  10. YMI & First Congregational UCC Art Exhibit: Remembering the fatal encounters with law enforcement of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black Americans, artists Heather Tolbert and Kai Lendzion will showcase their art at The Oak Street Gallery for the month of May, 2021. You may visit the Oak Street Gallery (20 Oak Street) at the First Congregational United Church of Christ every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon in May from 1 – 4 pm. Get details and information on the opening here
  11. Access to the Internet: The Buncombe County libraries, in trying to address some of the challenges people have to access the internet, are providing a laptop loan program. Get details here from this WLOS story. 
  12. Combating misinformation and disinformation: The NC Board of Elections has created this webpage on its website as well as a Mythbuster Archive to provide accurate information and to address some of the rumors that have been circulated attempting to discredit our elections.

Financially Supporting the BCRP

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project 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.

The funding will help the Project: (See more.)


Calendar

Here are some webinars, events, and activities this month that may interest you.

  • May 6th – Democracy NC is offering a panel discussion on the documentary, “Wilmington on Fire”, 7:30 pm. Get details here.  
  • May 8th – “John Lewis Voter Rights Advancement Action Day”, all day. Get details and register here to support HR 4
  • May 13th – Virtual screening of “We Cried Power”, a film from Brave New Films about increasing the minimum wage in NC, 7 pm. Get additional details and register here.
  • May 13th – Launch of a new website “(divorcing) White Supremacy Culture”, 8 pm. Get details here and register here. A $10 fee is requested, but no one will be turned away. 
  • May 20th – “Just Conversations: Dialoguing for Deeper Truths”, 6:30 pm. Hear from faith leaders about lessons learned while working long-term with people who share their goals but not their identities. Get details and register here.

Pandemic Resources

Even though there are signs the pandemic is ebbing somewhat, it remains very important for all to have access to the necessary resources and information to combat its spread and impact. In addition to the information provided above by MAHEC, Buncombe County has created this webpage that provides information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina provides this page as well.

Buncombe County Remembrance Project: April 2021

“Springing” Forward

Despite the cool temperatures predicted for today, Spring is here. That means there will be a lot of plants emerging, leafing and blossoming. This can also be a time to take action, and that is what the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is continuing to do.

In the past months and in the next few, the Project:

  1. Has been engaged with the city of Asheville and its Vance Monument Task Force with Dr. Oralene Simmons as one of its co-chairs. The Task Force recommended the city remove the monument, and at a recent City Council meeting, City Council agreed with that decision 6 to 1. 
  2. Is promoting an Essay Contest through Asheville City and Buncombe County schools to engage students to more accurately learn about the history of racial and economic injustice in our county. This link offers details  
  3. Is identifying up to three sites to post historical markers for the three Black men that have been identified thus far that were lynched in Buncombe County. Future e-newsletters will share these locations as they are approved by the City. See the article below for details of what happened in each case. 

There are now nearly 300 subscribers to this e-newsletter, thank you for your interest and stepping forward to support this effort. Feel free to share any part of this e-newsletter with anyone you believe may be interested.     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

Ron Katz,
Editor


Last month, Senator Raphael Warnock from Georgia offered his “maiden speech” to the US Senate.. He focused on the need for the Senate to protect our democracy and vote for HR 1 (the For the People Act) and HR 4 (the John Lewis Voting Rights Act).Both of these bills are crucial. It’s been reported that more than 40 states are offering over 250 bills that are considered by many as efforts to suppress the vote, particularly for people of color.


Lynching in Buncombe County

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) out of Montgomery, AL has been a crucial partner for the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. In this detailed report, you will read that there were over 100 lynchings that have been documented by EJI in North Carolina, with three men of record thus far listed in Buncombe County. They are:

  • John Humphreys, July 15, 1888
  • Hezekiah Rankin, September 24, 1891 
  • Bob Brackett, August 11, 1897

 “In the 1930s South, Black men often faced a terrifying choice: flee or die. This is Fred Croft’s story, as told by his niece. The effects of racial terror lynchings are still felt by families across America today.”

We offer these difficult stories each edition because they are important to tell. As Bryan Stevenson so eloquently states, we need to be truth tellers. The Lynching in America website from EJI is dedicated to sharing the history of this era of racial terrorism.  


Important News/Events/Stories

This e-newsletter not only covers what the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is doing but also offers other news, events and stories that align with its work. See below for some items that are noteworthy:

  1. As in each edition, here are articles, blogs, audios and videos focused on racial injustice and inequity and efforts to make positive change locally, regionally, statewide and/or nationally.
  2. In the last edition of this e-newsletter, an effort was shared to name the greenway in the River Arts District to honor Wilma Dykeman. The response from the community was strong, and at the March 23rd meeting of the Asheville City Council, there was a unanimous decision to do so. Read about the decision here from the Asheville Citizen-Times 
  3. Tools to Support COVID-19 Prevention: The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) has launched their community health newsletter. It provides resources to support the health of Black, African American, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, and other communities of color during the pandemic and beyond. Here is the latest monthly issue. Please share this information with all who may be interested. To subscribe, sign up here or email Jennifer Maurer.
  4. What do you think? Senator Chuck Edwards has introduced a bill in the NC Senate to penalize municipalities for taking any funding away from police departments. This article from Mountain Xpress offers his thoughts. Mountain Xpress is asking readers to offer their thoughts. You can find guidelines on submitting a letter to the editor here.
  5. The Buncombe County Equity & Inclusion work group is seeking citizen input on the development of the county’s Racial Equity plan. For details and how you can participate, go here.  
  6. Wonder what is in the American Rescue Plan? The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy offers this link to the major elements of the plan.
  7. Fair Fight Action is focused on supporting those who want to vote to have the access they need to do so. They are one of the leaders promoting HR 1 nationally, the For the People Act. At this time, they are asking people to call their senators to support this bill. Go here to get details and links to the phone numbers for your and all US senators.
  8. What is the history of voter suppression? Heather Cox Richardson is a historian and columnist. Her daily columns offer some insights but also the true history of the United States. In this column, she details how after the Civil War, the South reversed efforts to include Blacks on an equal footing to Whites. 
  9. Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment: The Biden Administration has created a special enrollment period for health insurance that has now been extended until August 15th. Get details here

Financially Supporting the BCRP

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project 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.

The funding will help the Project: (See more.)


Two Exciting Job Opportunities

The NC Counts Coalition has partnered with the NC Department of Health and Human Services to co-develop the Healthier Together initiative. The goal is to advance health equity among BIPOC communities, starting with vaccine equity.
     They are seeking to fill two positions in WNC. Jobs start at $65,000 for the year with a benefits package. The first is a Regional Health Equity Field Director; the second is a Regional Health Equity Operations Manager. Applicants are encouraged to apply by the week of April 12th. For questions, contact Stacey Carless or Rita HenryPlease share with others who might be interested!


Pandemic Resources

As the pandemic continues to spread, it remains very important for all to have access to the necessary resources and information. In addition to the information provided above by MAHEC, Buncombe County has created this webpage that provides information and resources to help our community. The state of North Carolina also provides this page as well. 

Image of a placard that says, "Robert Mallard, a prosperous farmer, was lynched near Lyons, Georgia in 1948 for voting.
Above is another image, slightly blurry, from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. To think that someone was lynched for voting in Georgia less than 75 years ago should make people wonder about some of the voter suppression efforts that appear to be targeting people of color now. 

Buncombe County Remembrance Project: March 2021

Moving Forward

It has been almost one year since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our community, the state and nation (and world). That impact continues, and there are several pieces below that provide information to help everyone navigate this challenging time, especially for people of color, including this event happening later today.

February is also a month where Black history is highlighted. This edition shares an effort to recognize the contributions of Blacks as exemplified through the inaugural Rosa Parks awards. These women each share their commitment to the work they’ve done and their appreciation for the honor in a short video. 

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project continues its work. The Equal Justice Initiative from Montgomery, Alabama, continues to support the efforts of communities like ours with this new resource for Community Remembrance Projects. Below, you’ll see highlights of the work that continues in spite of the limitations.

For the almost 300 subscribers to this e-newsletter, thank you for your interest and stepping forward to 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. Feel free to share any part or all of this e-newsletter with others.

Ron Katz,
Editor


Dr. Fox and group leads share the progress in the Lynching ResearchHistorical Marker, and the Essay Contest work groups in the article that follows. The links in the previous sentence take you to the specific sections for each work group. 

Community Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Steering Committee continues to meet during the COVID-19 Pandemic via Zoom. We need your help to continue to engage the community in discussions that affect the “Beloved Community”. (Read the entire article here.)

2021 Rosa Parks Award Winner: Tracey Greene-Washington

This year, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County announced their inaugural Rosa Parks Awards. Four women were honored in February, with each sharing a video on successive Thursdays. The one above is for the latest, Tracey Greene-Washington. Earlier recipients were Libby KylesDr. Sharon West, and Tara Brown. Congratulations to these dynamic members of this community! 

Important News/Events/Stories

This e-newsletter not only covers what the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is doing but also other news, events and stories that align with its work. See below for some items that are noteworthy:

  1. As in each edition, here are articles, blogs, audios and videos focused on racial inequity. This section also offers efforts to positively address these issues locally, regionally, statewide or nationally.
  2. Moral Mondays are Back: Rev. Dr. William Barber II and the Poor People’s Campaign meet today at 3 pm to continue their efforts to heal the earth and its people. Get details hereThis link is likely to offer information on future Moral Mondays. 
  3. ools to Support COVID-19 Prevention: The Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) is launching a community health newsletter to provide resources to support the health of Black, African American, Indigenous, Latinx/Hispanic, and other communities of color during the pandemic and beyond. This monthly, equity-focused newsletter includes science-based information and community-based resources to support COVID-19 prevention and vaccine education and to empower informed decision making, individual choice, and community well-being. To receive this monthly newsletter and/or contribute resources, please sign up here or email Jennifer Maurer.
  4. Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment: The Biden Administration has created a special enrollment period for health insurance until May 15th. Get details here
  5. Help Name the Wilma Dykeman Greenway: Wilma Dykeman, who grew up in the Beaverdam valley just north of the Asheville city limits, was one of the early voices of environmental justice. You can vote today to rename Asheville’s central greenway in the River Arts District from the French Broad River Greenway East to the Wilma Dykeman Greenway. Read the full story here
  6. Reading & Interview: The MLK Association, through its Community Outreach Providing Empowerment (COPE) program, features Dr. Stephanie Powell Watts, an African-American novelist and professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Dr. Powell Watts grew up in Lenoir, NC. After reading from a selection of her works, she will be interviewed by Jim Stokely. Jim is the son of legendary Asheville-based author Wilma Dykeman. This event will be featured on the MLK’s YouTube channel later this month.
  7. Leadership Asheville and the Asheville Area Arts Council are focusing on “Equity in Creative Placemaking” in their four-part winter breakfast series. The third event is March 18th and highlights Maria Jackson. Get the flyer with details here and register here.
  8. The North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library is making changes. As of Jan. 22nd, the room will be known as the Buncombe County Special Collections (BCSC). As noted by Director Jim Blanton, “most importantly, it is a critical step forward in making the space more welcoming and inclusive of the entire community.” Get the full story here

The story of Albert Joyner and the children of Old Fort is told in this short film. Back in 1955, Mr. Joyner escorted Black children who wanted to go to an all-white school. The premiere of this film happened recently, and the creation of a mural in downtown Old Fort honoring that day and the struggles of Blacks is shared.   

This is a flyer promoting a survey intended for those interested in home ownership. The details are in the caption.
Are you searching for housing options that are affordable for you? Perhaps you’re interested in home ownership — but not sure where to start. Complete this short survey, and learn more about this effort here

Abbeville, SC is about 2 hours from Asheville. In the video above, you will learn about a man, Anthony Crawford, who was lynched about 100 years ago because he refused to sell his goods for less than they were worth. 

This is a difficult story to hear, but it is important to tell. As Bryan Stevenson so eloquently states, we need to be truth tellers. 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.

The funding will help the Project: (See more.) 

Pandemic Resources

As the pandemic continues to spread, it remains very important for all to have access to the necessary resources and information. 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.

Image from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
Photo taken and provided by woodyeisenbergphotos.com

Above is another image from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The view from this angle shows the pillars hanging from 800 counties in the US where a lynching has been documented. In the foreground are replicas of those pillars that counties will be able to take back home and display once they develop a process for coming to terms with their racial history. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is planning to bring back the one for Buncombe County. 

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: February 2021

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. 

Ron Katz
Editor

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.) 

Pandemic Resources

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.

Photo taken and provided by woodyeisenbergphotos.com

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. 

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: January 2021

A New Year Beginning

It is likely that 2020 will not be remembered by many as their favorite year. It was difficult and challenging in so many ways, but with the start of a new year, there is hope that positive change will occur. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project looks both forward and backward because positive change can only occur when one remembers and learns from the past and puts those memories and lessons into future action.

This year starts off early with the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebrations, an almost full week of events and activities. This e-newsletter offers some important news & updates that include:

  • A listing of the events for the MLK Celebration starting on January 15th. Check out the article and YouTube link here or below to attend one or more of the events;
  • An updated timeline for the Project including the expected actions of our work groups;
  • An update on the important work the Equal Justice Initiative continues to do to work with Remembrance Projects like the one in Buncombe County; and
  • The first part of a two-part series written by Dr. Joseph Fox on the pandemic and issues that people of color are likely to have on taking the vaccine.

If you are interested in learning more about or being involved in one of our work groups, go here for the listing. And should you have questions or want to join a work group, contact Dr. Joseph Fox

Thanks for your interest in this Project. Feel free to share any part or all of this e-newsletter with others. 

Ron Katz
Editor

Asheville’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2021 Celebration

“40 years of Commemorating Dr. King’s Dream and Legacy”

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County has been recognizing, honoring, and celebrating the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for 40 years since its first Prayer Breakfast held at the Montford Community Center in Asheville. Since then, the Association has added events and continued to expand its involvement in the “Beloved Community” of western North Carolina. The Association now hosts a number of events year-round through its Community Outreach Providing Empowerment (COPE) Initiative, offering its annual Prayer Breakfast, Peace March & Rally, Candlelight Community Awards Program, and its Youth Scholarship Program, as well as special programming in response to community needs. (See list of all events here.) 

To view any of the events listed above, follow this link to the YouTube channel for the online Celebration. If you subscribe (hit the red button in the YouTube channel), you will get notifications of each event as it is posted. The videos will remain on the channel and be available after each event. 

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Updated Timeline

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Steering Committee and work groups have been busy with planning and estimating a timeline for completion. The Lynching Research work group has researched all three lynchings “of record” in Buncombe County, and has established a timeline of events, as well as collected news articles about the lynchings. The information has been shared with the Equal Justice Initiative staff. (See more.)

This is the second story from the Equal Justice Initiative being shared in this e-newsletter about the history of lynching. These are difficult stories to hear, but they are important to tell. The Lynching in America website from EJI is dedicated to sharing the history of this era of racial terrorism.  

Tell Us Your Story

As shown by the above video, we learn from stories, and there are some in this community that can shed light on the history of Asheville and Buncombe County. The BCRP is already capturing some of those stories from Black members of this community in videos. However, if there are people who would prefer to tell their stories pertaining to racial violence and social injustices that they have faced or have knowledge of that occurred in their communities and have it written down, the Project has someone who wants to listen and write your story down.

If you or someone you know are interested, please have them contact Dr. Joseph FoxDr. Oralene Simmons or Ron Katz who will connect you with the writer.

Equal Justice Initiative’s Programs

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has updated their programs since the start of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. Listed below are several updates from the EJI’s guides.

Historical Marker Project

Coalitions should thoughtfully consider sites of preference for the Historical Marker and work towards understanding the local approval processes for installing the Marker. (See more.)

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.) 

The Entrepreneurial Accelerator (TEA) provides support for minority entrepreneurs to test the feasibility of their ideas, complete comprehensive business plans, clarify assets, develop resources, and build relationships as they progress forward. Join them January 22nd – 24th. Get details herePlease share this opportunity!

Addressing Racial Inequities

As in each issue 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 locally, regionally, statewide or nationally.

The Racial Justice Coalition offered this “thank you” to the community, especially to those who supported their efforts in 2020. 

Join the YWCA in their 21 Days of Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. Get full details in the link above. While it started yesterday (January 1st), you can join at any time. 

Understanding the Past in Order to Trust the COVID-19 Vaccine

Recently, I have been asked my opinion about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. My reply to co-workers, family, and friends has been that I am not an M.D. but an Ed.D. The one thing that the doctoral process emphasized was research, and that is where I started looking for answers in hopes that the vaccine will return us to some sense of normalcy. (See more.) 

Pandemic Resources

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.

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. 

Photo taken and provided by woodyeisenbergphotos.com

The photo above was taken at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. If you have difficulty reading, the sign states, “In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.” If we follow those words, the hope and reality of the “beloved community” can indeed become real.

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. 

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: 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

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preserving and advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Buncombe County, Inc.
PO Box 328
Asheville, NC 28802-0328

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