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Buncombe Community Remembrance Project-September 2021

Upcoming Historical Markers Installation Ceremonies

The Buncombe County Community Remembrance Project Steering Committee recently met to discuss the installations of the Historical Markers honoring the three men “of record” that were lynched in Buncombe County. The Project is working in conjunction with the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace & Justice located in Montgomery, AL. We are currently working with the City of Asheville to plan the event for late October.

Initial plans include:

  • Inspirational Music
  • Project History
  • Greetings from Local Officials and EJI Representatives
  • Recognition of BCRP’s Steering Committee and Workgroup Members
  • Recognition of EJI Essay Winners
  • Unveilings of the Historical Markers

The Markers’ installation sites are as follows:

  • Mr. John Humphreys, Corner of College Street and South Spruce Street (Across from the Twisted Laurel)
  • Mr. Bob Brackett, Triangle Park
  • Mr. Hezekiah Rankin, Hazel Mill Road and Craven Street

(Read this entire article about the Installation Ceremonies here.)

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


The “Legacy of Lynching” requires our attention. This short video from EJI produced in Brooklyn in 2017 shows the importance of events like the Installation Ceremonies that will happen in Buncombe County at the end of October.
To view other important videos highlighted by EJI, go here.


Some Good News!!!

In a 2-1 decision, NC judges voted to reinstate voting rights for those formerly incarcerated who are now under supervision of some sort. That includes more than 55,000 people in our state. Get details from this article from Carolina Public Press. See Calls to Action (#1) below for information from Buncombe County about getting votes restored.

(Please note that the leadership of the NC General Assembly is moving to appeal this decision, so the victory is not assured yet.)


Calls to Action

  1. Voting Rights RestoredThis memo describes the recent court ruling allowing those currently on probation/parole to register and vote. The memo also has links to a registration form and other resources related to voting. Previously, voting rights were restored once you completed the terms of community supervision, but this ruling allows anyone not currently incarcerated to register and vote. For those working with someone who has questions about this, please contact Brent Bailey, Program Coordinator for the Buncombe County Re-entry Council. 
  2. Access to the Internet: North Carolina is trying to gather information on locations in the state without adequate internet access and speeds. Please complete this survey and share with others. Users without internet service can take the survey by phone at 919-750-0553.
  3. Support Child Care: Children First/Communities in Schools frequently provides ways for you to advocate for children. In this call to action, they are asking people to contact NC legislators to increase the child subsidy reimbursement rate for child care.
  4. Support Renters: In this challenging time, the Center for Popular Democracy is supporting renters. If you are a renter, you can offer input by completing this survey.
  5. Drawing fair districts in NC: The League of Women Voters Wake County has been a leader in NC on redistricting reform and now the drawing of districts after the 2020 US Census. They, like many, have found the actions of the Joint Committee on Redistricting unacceptable and have put together this Action Alert. It includes some important talking points that can be used in offering comments through the General Assembly’s public portal.
  6. Protect the right to free speech and protestHB 805 is seen by some as a retaliation against the Black Lives Matter movement. Contact your NC Senator and tell him/her to oppose HB 805.  Need to check on who your senator is? Click here! And keep calling! Here’s why to oppose HB 805: a) It increases the felony charges for simply participating in a protest that is classified as a “riot”. b) There are no written specifications to determine if a protester actually has participated in actions addressed in the bill. This could result in even more arrests than are seen now. c) People convicted of felonies are stripped of their right to vote. HB 805 would disenfranchise some of our most vocal citizens.
  7. The recent passage of VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) did not have the impact that was necessary to address the funding needs of many organizations addressing violence prevention in our communities. There are several ways everyone can help to address the funding needs of these important organizations in our community, as outlined in this call to action from Pisgah Legal Services.

This past May 30th, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project honored the three Black men the Equal Justice Initiative has documented were lynched in Buncombe County. The previous two editions of this e-newsletter offered videos for two of the lynching victims Mr. John Humphreys and Mr. Bob Brackett. The video above is the ceremony for Mr. Hezekiah Rankin who was lynched September 24, 1891.

Later this fall, the Remembrance Project is planning the installation of three historical markers to be located in the Asheville area. The hope is that the markers will be a reminder to everyone of the history of racial injustice.


Support a Trip to Montgomery

Members of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project will be traveling to Montgomery, Alabama some time in the next year as invited guests of the Equal Justice Initiative. As part of that trip, the Project would like to include people who want to attend but may not have the financial resources to do so.

The Project is asking members of the Buncombe community to make a tax deductible donation so that everyone may be able to attend. By going to this site offered by the Community Foundation of WNC, gifts will be set aside to make that possible.

Thanks for your consideration. 


Above is the video for one of the winners of the Equal Justice Initiative Essay Contest, Montana Gura. She reads her essay titled “Felony Disenfranchisement”.

This 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 all the essays that were awarded prizes including the honorable mentions. You are encouraged to read each of them!


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.

New:

  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 more easily find those that most interest them. 
  2. Eviction Moratorium struck down: Last week, the US Supreme Court struck down the federal government’s moratorium on evictions. Pisgah Legal Services offers this webpage for next steps for people in need.  
  3. Goombay Festival this weekend: This year marks the 40th year of this unique celebration of African and Caribbean culture in Western North Carolina. Hosted by the YMI Cultural Center, the Festival will feature three days of food, music, and crafts from September 3rd – 5th. Volunteers are still needed for Saturday and Sunday. If you can help, complete this form
  4. NC has a new state historian. It is Dr. Darin Waters. He has been the Executive Director of UNC Asheville’s Office of Community Engagement since 2017, as well as an associate professor of history at the school for the past 11 years. Congratulations, Darin!
  5. Voting Rights Act Remembered: On August 6th, the United States observed the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In this blog, historian Heather Cox Richardson offers her perspective on this anniversary and the need for all to remember its history.  
  6. If you or others are in need of mortgage relief, OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling provides important information and support in this Resource Digest.
  7. Scholarship Opportunity: Mission Hospitals is offering the 2021 Kesha Young Scholarship Program for students of color who are pursuing a healthcare career. Applications are being accepted now through September 13th from those who graduated high school in Spring of 2021 or are enrolled at a college or university this fall. Application and instructions are available here and on their website.
  8. Lenoir-Rhyne University is pleased to announce the third session of the Lenoir-Rhyne Equity & Diversity Institute (LREDI). This semester, the institute will be providing face-to-face, online, and private group instruction. Courses begin today, September 1st, but people can still register. Get details here
  9. Our friends at the Wilma Dykeman Legacy are organizing an exciting event focused on legendary WNC native and jazz icon Nina Simone. Dr. Warren Carson, a Simone expert, will be the presenter. The talk is slated for 7 pm on November 11th on Zoom and possibly in-person at the West Asheville Library. Email mystory@wilmadykemanlegacy.org to register or to get more information.

On-going:

  1. 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.
  2. MAHEC e-newsletter: “COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly across Western North Carolina and the state.” That is the first line from their most recent e-newsletter of August 25th. MAHEC provides important information to share with the community. Please share with others. 
  3. The Western Women’s Business Center is launching a new African American Business Association (AABA) with an emphasis on providing marketing support. This press release gives details on this venture and membership. 
  4. You Can Vote, a statewide organization committed to promoting voting in North Carolina, announced a partnership with HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to both register and get out the vote. Get details on this important effort here
  5. 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.

Pandemic Resources

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. Additionally, the NC Black Alliance offers this webpage dedicated to the latest information on COVID-19 for members of the Black community.

aaba, African American Business Association, Brooklyn Museum: Legacy of Lynching, Child care subsidy, EJI, EJI Racial Justice Essay Contest Winner, Equal Justice Initiative, Eviction Moratorium, Goombay, HB 805, Historical Markers Installation Ceremonies, LREDI, MAHEC, Montana Gura, Mr. Bob Brackett, Mr. Hezekiah Rankin, Mr. John Humphreys, Pandemic Resources, scholarship, vaccinatiion, Voting Rights, Western Women's Business Center, WWBC

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