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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: 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.

Census, Pandemic Resources, Racial Inequities, Remembrance Project, Vote, Voting

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