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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: February 2022

Keeping the Momentum Going

There have been some challenges this past month (the continuing pandemic and the failure of federal legislation to promote voting, to name two), but there have also been some successes. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County stood out once again with a week of events starting with the Prayer Breakfast. A video of the Breakfast program is included below, and links to other videos from that week are available here.

The efforts to move forward require sharing the truth and continuing the healing; these are both high priorities for this Remembrance Project. Please check the next section for an important announcement of a series that is designed to support the healing of Black members of the Buncombe community. Feel free to share this announcement with people who may be interested and encourage them to complete the interest form.

The pandemic delayed previously planned trips to Montgomery, Alabama, but the steering committee of the Remembrance Project is hopeful that the pandemic will ebb sufficiently to allow for a trip in mid-May. Check out future editions of this e-newsletter for details.

As always, thanks so much for your interest in this Project. The e-distribution list has grown from about 150 when it started back in March, 2020, to over 350 today. It is clear that there are many members of the Buncombe community that want to be engaged. Feel free to share parts or all of this e-newsletter with anyone who may be interested.

Ron Katz

“Marking History, Healing the Present, Protecting the Future”

3 Session Series

None of us are free until all of us are free,” was stated by Civil Rights mother, grassroots leader and national change-agent, Fannie Lou Hamer. That quote captures the beliefs and approach toward healing in community by Faith 4 Justice Asheville (F4J). Those in F4J believe a key role of the “church universal” is to foster collective healing by “provoking justice” in the church and the communities they serve. Provoking justice starts with healing.

That is the focus of the three facilitated sessions “Marking History, Healing the Present, Protecting the Future” led by Rev. Tami Forte Logan, Equity Missioner for Faith 4 Justice in Asheville. This series is being developed for and is funded by the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. Here are the specifics:

  • The series is designed for Black members of Buncombe County.
  • All participants are expected to attend all three sessions that are tentatively scheduled to start the week after Easter. The specific day of the week and time of day will be determined based on a poll from those who complete the interest form noted below.
  • The first 25 registered participants will each receive a stipend to defray transportation and other personal costs.
  • It is hoped that participants will share their learning with members of their community, organizations, or other circles. 

For those interested in participating, please complete this interest form. The initial deadline to reserve your spot is March 1st, but that may be extended. Participants may also have the opportunity to continue their learning (and healing) by traveling with the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project to visit the Equal Justice Initiative and various civil rights sites in Montgomery, Alabama tentatively set for May, 2022. 

Should you have questions, please contact Dr. Joseph Fox.

The 41st Annual Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast (Keynote by Marcia Johnson-Blanco)

This year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast was once again held virtually. With celebrations totaling 41 years, it is one of the longest running in the country, and it is a tribute to the board and its founder, Dr. Oralene Simmons, that it has been held every year, usually to an overflow crowd.

Included in this year’s celebration was the keynote address of Dr. Marcia Johnson-Blanco who spoke on the importance of the ballot box in making racial justice a reality.

Finally, this year’s very deserving recipient of the Community Humanitarian Award was Dr. Joseph Fox. Dr. Simmons offered some of the accomplishments that Dr. Fox has made in this community including his leadership of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2022 Recognition Events

This year’s Celebration started with the Prayer Breakfast and included several other events.

There are many videos that were presented during this historic Celebration week thanks to the good work of Aisha Adams Media. You can access each through the MLK YouTube channel or find them organized by day here.

Calls to Action or Engagement

  1. The Lenoir-Rhyne University Asheville Equity & Diversity Institute (LREDI) is an approved continuing education credit provider for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), North Carolina State Bar and Northwest Area Health Education Centers. LREDI supports, inspires, and equips executives, non-profit leaders, educators, students, social activists and other community members who intend to spark change and cultivate better communities through their professional careers. Learn more about LREDI by clicking here.
  2. Pledging to Vote is a key element in getting a strong turnout for an election. You Can Vote is a statewide, nonpartisan nonprofit focused on registering and turning out voters often forgotten. They offer up to date information to help people navigate the process. Go here to pledge. Please share with your networks
  3. “Ask Gov. Cooper to pardon Ed Chapman, an innocent man who spent almost 14 years on death row.” This post from the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty offers what you can do to help make this happen.
  4. An effort continues to make Asheville City government more responsive to the community. Check out this overview to an Open Meetings Policy and ways people and organizations can support this effort.

Bob Brackett (Buncombe Community Remembrance Project Historical Markers’ Installation Ceremony)

In this edition of the e-newsletter, another video is shared of an unveiling of one of the three markers from the Historical Markers Installation Ceremony on October 30th, 2021. In this video, Mr. Bob Brackett is remembered for his sacrifice in 1897.

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. Below 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 more easily find those that interest them. 
  2. The State of Black Asheville was founded by Dr. Dwight Mullen over 10 years ago as an undergraduate research project at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Dr. Mullen has created a comprehensive resource that collects and enables data-driven research and analysis of outcomes along racial lines and makes the information accessible to our community. Here is a video from the Folding Chair webinar offered last December that covers the state of Black Asheville today.

EJI’s New Legacy Museum

In this video from 2017, members of the Equal Justice Initiative highlight the importance of the Legacy Museum. The steering committee of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project hopes that this spring members of the Buncombe community can caravan to Montgomery to see the Museum, the Memorial for Peace and Justice, and other civil rights sites. 

Remembrance Projects Nationally and Locally

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) continues to be an important partner not only to Buncombe County but to all communities willing and working to address their history of racial injustice. Below are several elements the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project continues to highlight shared by EJI.

  1. EJI is currently working with nearly 100 communities to advance Community Remembrance Projects. A little more than half have erected historical markers. You can find out more about the communities that have erected EJI sponsored Community Remembrance Project markers here.
  2. You can view what is on each of the markers for Buncombe County, front and back, here as compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative. To see the markers, go to the following sites: for Mr. John Humphries – College & Spruce Streets; for Mr. Bob Brackett – Triangle Park; and for Mr. Hezekiah Rankin – Craven Street & Emma Road.
  3. The full stories about each of the three men lynched are captured in this document
  4. The Equal Justice Initiative shared this webpost of the Historical Markers Installation Ceremony of October 31st.
  5. The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is pleased to work with the Equal Justice Initiative. Here is the EJI 2021 Activity Report which was shared recently.

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.

Dr. Dwight Mullen, Dr. Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Ed Chapman, EJI, Fannie Lou Hamer, Legacy Museum, LREDI, Mr. Bob Brackett, Pandemic Resources, Prayer Breakfast, Rev. Tami Forte Logan, State of Black Asheville

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