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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: 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

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

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.

Lynching in America: Uprooted, MLK Celebration, new year, Pandemic Resources, The Entrepreneurial Accelerator

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