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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 2022

Montgomery/Selma Tour: Culminating Event

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s culminating event was a tour of civil rights museums and memorials in Montgomery and Selma, Alabama that completed the Equal Justice Initiative’s Remembrance Project. The diverse group of 28 individuals, ranging from age 3 to 86, left Asheville on Friday, June 10th, bound for several civil rights museums and memorials. The group was diverse in age, race, gender, sexual orientation/identity, faith, and status, and demonstrated the unity that can exist in our communities. Also among the group was a member of Asheville City Council, a North Carolina State Senator, the City’s Director of Equity and Inclusion, Community Associations’ Members, and a strong representation from the Center for Participatory Change!

The first stop along the journey was the Rosa Parks Museum that is affiliated with Troy University. The group was able to learn more about the leaders behind the Montgomery bus boycott and the political/social climate in Montgomery during the 1950s. The enactment of that life-changing day was observed as the group watched silently and reverently as images appeared on the bus. The group also viewed historical artifacts such as Ms. Parks’ original fingerprint arrest record, court documents, and the police report. (Read this entire article including some photos here.)

Dr. Joseph Fox
Chair, Buncombe Community Remembrance Project

Possible Link Issues

When this e-newsletter was drafted, it appeared that all the links were working fine. However, there may be an issue with one or more of them. If you have a problem accessing any of the links, please email me, and I’ll forward the links to you directly. 

Ron Katz

This past month saw the second official Federal holiday celebration for Juneteenth. In this segment from the PBS NewsHour aired on June 20th, the history and celebration are highlighted. Get the perspectives from other news sources about this holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves that occurred on June 19th, 1865 here

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. There are several “calls to action” addressing the NC state budget, voting, and democracy rights. Go here to learn more and ways you can take action. Some of these require your attention in the next week. 
  3. Healthy Blue NC covers Medicaid and Health Choice in NC. They are inviting people to two special meetings – one on August 16th, from 6 – 7 pm, and the second on September 6th, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, both at Lenoir Rhyne University in north Asheville. Get details and how to register in these flyers: 8/16 – English8/16 – in Spanish9/6 – English, and 9/6 in Spanish.
  4. In this email from the Racial Justice Coalition, they are asking people in Buncombe County to contact the County Commissioners to respond to the request by the Reparations Commission to establish an annual allocation in its budget for reparations.
  5. Want to Support Medicaid Expansion to help more than 600,000 in NC get health insurance coverage? You can take these two actions, but also contact NC House Speaker Tim Moore via email or phone: 919-733-3451. Tell him you believe he must bring Medicaid Expansion to the House floor to be voted on. 
  6. Buncombe County is sharing the availability of laptops and hotspots through the libraries. Get details here.
  7. “Liberated Capital: A Decolonizing Wealth Project Fund” is a national fund addressing ways to fund those who have often not had the resources to support themselves and their communities. Get details here and how you can be involved.

Buncombe Pre-K is a community effort to make it easier for families to find and apply for publicly funded pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs. Aisha Adams talks to three of the people involved with the program and how to take advantage of it. For more information about Buncombe Pre-K and how to enroll, go here  For more about the The Asheville View, go here.

The Legacy of the Buncombe Community 
Remembrance Project

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s planning started in 2018, when community “leads”, faith-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, and representatives from the City and County initially met to discuss the need for the Project to recognize individuals lynched in Buncombe County after the Civil War. In early 2019, the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County became the lead organization, utilizing a collective impact model to create a Project Action Plan. Using the collective impact model, the term “lead” was substituted for the term “leader” to indicate that all stakeholders had a voice in the process, while others were just taking the “lead” to identify steps needed to move the work forward.

One of the earliest steps in the planning process was to identify other organizations, associations, and individuals that should be part of the discussions. Diverse communication channels were utilized to invite other stakeholders to discussions that were focused on the Project’s goals, equity, and an operating structure to move the Project forward. The initial group of stakeholders agreed that a Steering Committee should be made up of representatives from the Stakeholders’ Group, as well as reaching out to others that might be interested in joining the Steering Committee Group. (Read the entire article here.)

In this video from 2019, Bryan Stevenson speaks to the “Great Migration”, where many Blacks left the South to move to the North. Much of that migration occurred because of the prevalence of lynchings in the South.

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. MLK Association Provides $36,000 in College Scholarships: On the evening of June 2nd, the Martin Luther King Association of Asheville and Buncombe County held its annual College Scholarship Ceremony at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville campus. For the first time in many years, scholarship applicants represented all of Asheville City Schools’ and Buncombe County Schools’ traditional high schools, as well as Buncombe County Early College, Buncombe County Middle College, the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA), and Carolina Day School. Twelve of the applicants received scholarships, which totaled a collective $36,000. (Read the entire article here.)   
  3. Equity Over Everything shared some upcoming courses that will be offered starting in late August from the Lenoir Rhyne Equity & Diversity Institute. Get details for each here.
  4. Just before Father’s Day, Senator Raphael Warnock shared this reflection of his father in the NY Times. His story, “I Can Still Hear My Father’s Voice”, says a lot about what his father endured and the commitment the Senator has to racial and social justice. 
  5. The reception for the Kesha Young Scholarship recipients at Mission Hospital celebrated the 25th year of the program. It also honored Kesha’s adoptive mom LaVerne Glover for her instrumental role in raising the issue of diversity in the healthcare workforce. Seventeen awardees were recognized, representing students from all over WNC with a broad array of very impressive health career goals! Get details here from this WLOS article and videoHere is a photo of some of the recipients. 
  6. In this press release that was included in the Mountain Xpress, the WNC Historical Association presented its Annual Outstanding Achievement award to the Railroad and Incarcerated Laborer (RAIL) Memorial Project for their work telling the story and memorializing the work and sacrifice of the thousands of incarcerated laborers who were forced to build the railroad through our region under brutal conditions. Also as part of the press release, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project was recognized for its accomplishments. 
  7. Buncombe County shared this press release on June 16th announcing the Asheville Historic Map of African American Landmarks. Included on the map are the three historical markers the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project installed recognizing the lynching of three Black men.

Back in 2012, Bryan Stevenson spoke to “Ending the Politics of Fear and Anger”. Never does this seem more appropriate and necessary than at this time when there is so much division.

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 in each edition 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.

Adapting to Life with COVID-19

The COVID-19 Virus appears to be here for the long haul, and we must prepare accordingly. The encouraging fact is that individuals are engaging in outdoor activities during these summer months; however, infection rates may continue to climb during fall and winter months as we move inside for various events and celebration. There has been a decline in the number and rate of COVID-19 cases in Buncombe County based on the last seven days as indicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s information listed below. (Read this entire article here.)

Pandemic Resources

 COVID-19 and its variants remain a concern. 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.

Aisha Adams, Bryan Stevenson, Buncombe Pre-K, Every Black Voice, Government Accountability Project, Great Migration, Healthy Blue NC, Juneteenth, Kesha Young Scholarship, Pandemic Resources, RAIL, Railroad and Incarcerated Laborer Memorial Project, Reparations, Rosa Parks Museum, Selma Tour, The Asheville View

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