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MLK Association of Asheville
"Our LIVES Begin To End The Day
We Become SILENT About Things That MATTER"
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project: June 2020

A Special Message in These Times

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

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

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

Communicating in the Era of COVID-19

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

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

Ron Katz

Updates on the Project’s Work Groups

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

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

Memorial Day and Juneteenth: The Past as Prologue

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

This Year’s Elections

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

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

Pandemic Resources

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

The Importance of the Census

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

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

Racial Inequities

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

Equal Justice Initiative

This Project is made possible under the guidance of this extraordinary organization. Some of you may have visited Montgomery, Alabama and seen the Legacy Museum, the Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the new Legacy Pavilion that were created by Bryan Stevenson, the founder of this organization. Still others may have seen the recent film, Just Mercy, based on the book of the same name. 

It is important this organization is acknowledged for the leadership it provides not only to this Project but to other projects and efforts to address the history and reality of racial inequities throughout the United States. Democracy Now offered this video about the opening of the Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice back in spring, 2018.

Census, Communication, Covid-19, EJI, Elections, Equal Justice Initiative, Juneteenth, Memorial Day, Pandemic Resources, Racial Inequities, Remembrance Project, Work Groups

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