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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: August 2022

Next Steps for the Project

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project has accomplished much, and one of its lasting legacies is likely to be how it brought so many people together from different organizations. Initially, this e-newsletter had a mailing list of about 150. It now exceeds 360 and continues to expand monthly.

Change is a constant, and you will hear more about that change in future issues, but a key piece of this e-newsletter has been to not only present what the Project has done and plans to do, but to share what other organizations that align with the Project are doing. This includes events, calls to action, or ways that people can support specific groups.

This edition of the e-newsletter continues to share those opportunities to learnbe inspired and take action. You can find additional details later in the e-newsletter for both of the following highlighted items.

Finally, please feel free to share any part or all of this e-newsletter with anyone you wish.

Ron Katz

In this video from The Emancipator, the case is made that “we can solve the racial wealth gap”. As reparations in our community and elsewhere are being discussed and actions are being taken, it is important to understand how this can be one element that deals with the racial wealth gap.

Calls to Action or Engagement

  1. We Rise As One! The 2022 East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival will take place in MLK Park, 50 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Asheville on Saturday, August 27th from 10 am to 9 pm. There will be live music, vendors, food trucks, and a children’s area. The East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival Parade on MLK Drive starts at 10 am on Saturday from the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Alexander Drive to MLK Park. The children’s area will be open from 11 am to 8 pm. This year’s festival is in honor of the late Mack Moore of M&M Heating & Cooling. East End/Valley Street is Asheville’s oldest African-American neighborhood. This is an alcohol free, family friendly festival! Come celebrate with us! Everyone is welcome! 
  2. The Racial Justice Coalition shared this email thank you for all those who encouraged the Buncombe County Commission and Asheville City Council to establish on-going Reparations funding in their budgets. The total is set for $1 million, with an annual allocation of $500,000 each.
  3. End the Exception is a call to amend the 13th amendment. That amendment states “[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime” is legal. You can take action here.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.

In this Brief but Spectacular segment from the PBS NewsHour, a courageous woman shares the importance of sisterhood for those with loved ones who are incarcerated.

Community Building Through Collaboration

by Joseph Fox, Ed.D., MBA, PHR

A common theme that kept coming up during the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project’s trip to view civil rights museums in Montgomery and Selma, Al, June 10 – 12, was collaboration. A prime example of collaboration that leads to community building is the E. W. Pearson Project Collaborative. One of the individuals on the trip shared with the group the success that the E.W. Pearson Project has had by working with other community advocates and organizers. According to its website, in 2017, Shiloh Community Association joined with two other historic African American community-based organizations, East End Valley Street Neighborhood and Burton Street Community Associations, and an African American educational nonprofit, Project Lighten Up, to form the E. W. Pearson Project Collaborative. (To read this entire article, go here.)

Some of the most respected institutions in the United States were built on the backs of those who were enslaved. In this video, Harvard shares its history as it relates to slavery.

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. MAHEC recently announced the retirement of an extraordinary leader in the community, Jacquelyn Hallum. Read about her here and note the important event on October 7th
  3. Equity Over Everything often has a monthly webinar that offers important information. For August, they offer this Folding Chair webinar on August 16th on how to apply for jobs that focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Register at the link above.
  4. Come to a showing of the film “Racist Roots”, on August 17th, starting at 1:30 pm, at the Reuter Center on the UNCA campus with a panel discussion afterwards. Parking is free. Get details from this press release and flier
  5. 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.
  6. Buncombe County shared a 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. 
  7. NC recently lost an important leader. In this tribute from Rev. Jennifer Copeland of the NC Council of Churches, civil rights leader and social justice advocate Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman is acknowledged for his many contributions. 
  8. In this blogpost from historian Heather Cox Richardson last month, she commemorates an important date in history from the Civil War when Black soldiers stormed a fort outside of Charleston. Here is a  photo of a sculpture that commemorates the raid on Fort Wagner. This article from the National Park Service offers some additional details.

Those from the Project who went to Montgomery in June visited many civil rights sites. The Legacy Museum shares the history of slavery and its evolution into mass incarceration.

As part of the video above, you will see three people looking at the filled jars of soil from sites where people were were lynched. The three jars honoring Mr. John HumphriesMr. Bob Brackett, and Mr. Hezekiah Rankin are displayed here. Montgomery should be a destination for all who want to understand the history of the United States.

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.

Here are two additional items from the Equal Justice Initiative that the Project wants to share:

  1. Want to stay connected to the work of the Equal Justice Initiative? Sign up for updates about their work here.
  2. Every day of the year offers important racial justice history. If you want to get a daily reminder of that history, the Equal Justice Initiative offers this sign-up. Go here to get today’s reminder.

COVID-19 Impact on Mental Health

by Joseph Fox, Ed.D., MBA, PHR

The impact from living with the COVID-19 Pandemic for the past few years goes beyond the physical conditions that individuals have experienced that have been infected with the virus. The mental impacts have included higher levels of stress, worry, higher blood pressure levels, and lack of sleep as people have tried to learn how to protect themselves from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Unclear and misinformation in the media has increased stress levels as people have tried to sort through facts versus myths and incorrect information. (To read this entire article, go 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.

E. W. Pearson Project Collaborative, East End/Valley Street Community Heritage Festival, End the Exception, Equity Over Everything, Healthy Blue NC, Heather Cox Richardson, Jacquelyn Hallum, LREDI, Pandemic Resources, Racial Justice Coalition, Reuter Center, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Rev. Jennifer Copeland, The Folding Chair, UNCA

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