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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: June 2022

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

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project sponsored a healing session entitled, “Marking History, Healing the Present, Protecting the Future,” on May 11th, at Black Wall Street in the River Arts district near downtown Asheville. Rev. Tami Forte Logan and Ms. Phyllis Utley facilitated the four-hour session that took a look at community and personal trauma and the impact that they have on individuals’ outlooks on life. Fourteen individuals took part in the training that is part of the work that Rev. Logan provides through Faith 4 Justice Asheville (F4J).

Faith 4 Justice Asheville is a collaborative of skilled faith leaders in the Asheville region who have been “provoking justice for and with black and brown bodied people in the Asheville region” since 2016. Faith 4 Justice leaders actively respond to the call for both supporting the leadership and strategies of Black and Latinx grassroots leaders and building the internal capacity of mostly white, progressive faith leaders and their congregations to identify and remove white supremacy culture and practices from their institutions and the world. (Read this entire article here.)

Dr. Joseph Fox
Chair, Buncombe Community Remembrance Project

Lynching in America: How is Lynching Related to the Death Penalty Today?

The death penalty is seen as an extension of lynching in this country. That is the case made by the Equal Justice Initiative and Bryan Stevenson in this video.

Calls to Action or Engagement

  1. The Racial Justice Coalition offers opportunities for people to support their important work. Here are two efforts – the Government Accountability Project and the Every Black Voice campaign – that are explained with ways for people to support each. 
  2. Want to Support Medicaid Expansion to help more than 600,000 in NC get health insurance coverage? Here are two actions you can take to make this happen.
  3. The Reparations Commission is in place, and at their first meeting, they asked the city and country to start setting aside money in the budgets to go towards reparations. You can get details and take action from this Racial Justice Coalition email.
  4. The Blue Note Junction Team is asking for your support. Funding is available from Buncombe County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the Team is asking for people to contact Buncombe County Commissioners. Get details here about how you can help.
  5. Do you believe in second chances? The Sentencing Project is asking people to take action here to “Support the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act and the First Step Implementation Act.”
  6. In this segment from a recent email from Valarie Kaur of the Revolutionary Love Project, she offers some thoughts and ways to grieve and take action to support the people of Buffalo who have been impacted by the recent gun violence..
  7. Buncombe County is sharing the availability of laptops and hotspots through the libraries. Get details here.

How America can respond to white nationalist violence

In this segment from the PBS NewsHour, Judy Woodruff speaks with Jelani Cobb, the next dean of the Columbia Journalism School, and Eric Ward from the Southern Poverty Law Center. Each speaks to white nationalism and white supremacy and how the United States can respond. Mr. Ward shares that the actions in Buffalo and other shootings targeting Blacks is “not an aberration but is grounded in the belief systems of those who connect this hate to antisemitism.”

Important News/Events/Stories

This e-newsletter shares what the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is doing and 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. On May 21st, Mars Hill University honored Dr. Oralene Simmons, founder and president of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, with an honorary doctorate. The commencement speaker was Preston Blakely, mayor of Fletcher, NC, and Simmons’s grandson. Get details from this release. Congratulations, Dr. Simmons!
  3. In this blogpost from historian Heather Cox Richardson, she speaks to the recent shootings/murders in Buffalo, and the history of racial terror in this country
  4. In this commentary from CNN, a Black father asks an important question to White teen males. 
  5. In this article from Yes! Magazine, the writer asks how white supremacists can be stopped from killing people of color.

Moral March on Memphis | May 23rd Promo*

In this video from the Poor People’s Campaign, the call to action is made to end systemic racism, systemic poverty, a war-based economy, ecological devastation, the denial of health care, and religious nationalism. Each is noted as a prelude to a march and rally in Memphis that occurred this past May 23rd as well as the upcoming June 18th Moral March. If you are interested in going to the Moral March in Washington, DC, the NC Poor People’s Campaign is offering this opportunity to participate by providing transportation.

Remembrance Projects Nationally and Locally

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has been the 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 webpage of the Historical Markers Installation Ceremony on October 30th last year.

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.

Buffalo Massacre, Death Penalty, Dr. Oralene Simmons, Faith 4 Justice Asheville, healing session, Lynching, Moral March, Ms. Phyllis Utley, Poor People's Campaign, Reparations, Rev. Tami Forte Logan

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