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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wonder what is in the American Rescue Plan? The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy offers this link to the major elements of the plan.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Henry. Please share with others who might be interested!
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.