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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 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

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.)


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.

ACA, Affordable Care Act, Event Calendar, Grant Opportunity, Pandemic Resources, Remembrance Project, Vaccination

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