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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: July 2021

Buncombe Community Remembrance Project

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project has continued its work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic! Many thanks and much gratitude are extended to individuals that chaired various workgroups, as well as a special acknowledgement must be given to Dr. Oralene Simmons for her general leadership; Samantha Cole, for her leadership with the Research Workgroup; Eric Grant and Kerri Hampton, for their work with the Essay Contest; Rebecca Brothers, for her work with logistics; Kerri Hampton and Rebecca Brothers, for their work with the Soil Collection Project; and, of course, Ron Katz and Virginia Pett for keeping the monthly e-newsletter active and full of valuable information!

(Please read this entire Update here.)

Joseph Fox, Ed.D., M.B.A., PHR
Vice President, MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Coordinator

Remembrance Project Honors Three Men

Below is the video from the first service honoring the three men that the Equal Justice Initiative has verified that were lynched in Buncombe County. For this edition and the next two, this e-newsletter will offer videos for each Black man – Mr. John HumphriesMr. Bob Brackett, and Mr. Hezekiah Rankin.

In late summer or early fall, the Remembrance Project is planning the installation of three historical markers to be located in the Asheville area. The hope is that it will be a reminder to everyone of the history of racial injustice.

This edition also honors the participants in the Essay Contest with a video of the first place winner and a link to three of those who placed.

Ron Katz

On May 30th, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project honored the three Black men the Equal Justice Initiative has documented that were lynched in Buncombe County. This video is the ceremony for Mr. John Humphries who was lynched July 15th, 1888.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Association YouTube Channel

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County offers a number of videos starting with this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in January. To view these important videos, go here.

Many of these videos have been and will continue to be highlighted in the Project’s monthly e-newsletter.

Above is the video for the first place winner of the Equal Justice Initiative Essay Contest, Sarah Buchanan, reading her essay focused on the mistreatment of indigenous people in this country. Racial injustice has impacted all people of color.

This very successful contest was led by Eric Grant, chair of the Essay Contest work group. Here is a link to a message from Eric, and the list of all the winners including links to the top three essays.

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. As always feel free to share any or all of these items or the entire e-newsletter.


  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. Items are organized into categories to help readers better find those that most interest them. 
  2. Reparations: For reparations to succeed in Asheville and Buncombe County: the process must be controlled by and benefit Black community members; land and money must be turned over to the collective discretion of the Black community; there must be a healing-centered truth-telling process; local governments must address and end systemic anti-black racism in all the departments that they oversee. Take this pledge to support Every Black Voice.
  3. Accelerate your business progress and unlock Your Full Potential. The Entrepreneurial Accelerator supports aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business owners as they catapult from concept to the commercial sphere. Get details and register here for the July 23rd-25th Equity Over Everything Entrepreneurial Accelerator program.
  4. Co-Thinkk offers this press release honoring community leaders in Asheville and throughout western North Carolina
  5. The Wilma Dykeman Legacy offers a Poem of the Month reading and zoom gathering every month through December. The next poem is Tuesday, July 6th, starting at 7 pm. Get details from this press release.  
  6. Critical race theory: This theory is being misrepresented by some. In this column from John Boyle of the Asheville Citizen-Times, he asks, “what are people afraid of?”
  7. Another voice on critical race theory: Critical race theory is at the center of a lot of disagreements and misinformation now. Historian Heather Cox Richardson focuses on this issue in her column of June 12th here. “So why is Critical Race Theory such a flashpoint in today’s political world? Perhaps in part because it rejects the Republican insistence that an individual can create a prosperous life by will alone. It says that, no matter how talented someone might be, or how eager and dedicated, they cannot always contend against the societal forces stacked against them. It argues for the important weight of systems, established through time, rather than the idea that anyone can create a new reality. It acknowledges the importance of history.”


  1. Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment: The Biden Administration created this special enrollment period for health insurance that continues 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
  2. 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.
  3. Increasing affordable housing: How can we increase affordable housing options for all families? We have to work together and invest in long-term solutions at much higher levels – right now. Thrive Asheville offers their policy agenda here to increase affordable housing options.

 In this video offered by the Asheville View, two doctors explore vaccine hesitancy particularly among people of color especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Regarding the pandemic, MAHEC continues to offer a monthly e-newsletter to inform people of the latest health information around COVID-19. Here is the latest issue from June 11th.

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.) 

While the Vance Monument demolition has been halted, it is like the efforts to address racial injustice and white supremacy here and in our country – in progress. It will take a concerted effort to finish the job. 

Special thanks to Woody Eisenberg for this photograph and the additional photos of the deconstruction here.

Pandemic Resources

While the pandemic is ebbing, 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.

Bob Brackett, Critical Race Theory, Dr Joseph Fox, Dr. Oralene Simmons, Eric Grant, Hezekiah Rankin, John Humphries, Kerri Hampton, Rebecca Brothers, Reparations, Ron Katz, Samantha Cole, vaccine, Vance Monument

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