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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: January 2023

Passing the Torch

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County recognizes Ron Katz for the service he has given as the editor of the monthly e-newsletter. The e-newsletter was created at the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic as part of the communication and community engagement strategies of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project. The Steering Committee and the Community Stakeholder groups were unable to meet face-to-face to plan the various parts of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project that recognized three young men (of record) lynched in Buncombe County, but the group did not want to delay the most important work of acknowledgment and recognition of the Project.

The Steering Committee pivoted to Zoom meetings to keep the work moving forward. Ron was very instrumental in volunteering to start the e-newsletter, as well as reaching out to individuals to assist with editing and finding contributors. After the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project was completed, Ron agreed to stay on as the editor until a path forward was established to transition the e-newsletter to its current state of presenting information helpful to the community.

Jonathan McCoy, Vice President of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association and Chair of the Community Outreach Providing Empowerment (COPE) Program, has agreed to take over the reins as the main editor. The COPE Program focuses on empowering residents through educational outreach, workshops, seminars, and special events. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County places great emphasis on the goals of Dr. King that foster economic development, affordable housing, and self-sufficiency. The goals of the COPE Program are:

  • To provide year-round educational outreach to local communities.
  • To provide programming that reinforces African American contributions in the areas of advocacy, education, entrepreneurship, and health. 
  • To instill community pride by sponsoring programs that reinforce the rich heritage of African Americans.
  • To partner with like-minded organizations.

As we enter this new phase of the e-newsletter, we hope that individuals will continue to submit articles that highlight and inform the community about services, resources, and community concerns. Jonathan can be reached at

Joseph Fox

MLK Peace March and Rally Day of Service 
Honors Sister Bernadette Thompson

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

As the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County plans the 2023 Peace March and Rally, it is a bittersweet process knowing that Sister Bernadette Thompson will not be with us physically to lead the march. Sister Bernadette led the march for many years and was a vital part of the MLK partnership with St. James AME Church where she served as the secretary for a number of years. If the Peace March and Rally Chair was too slow in reaching out to her to plan the use of St. James AME Church for the church portion of the program, or to coordinate the fish fry that occurs after the Peace March and Rally, Sister Bernadette, or “pink wheels” would reach out to say, “You all are coming back to St. James, right?” She was always ready to assist with the planning, as well as offering up a flier to advertise the fish fry. She would say, “I can’t make the meetings, but just let me know what you need me and St. James to do.”

(Read this entire article here.)

Martin Luther King – Inspirational Speech {Be Phenomenal Motivation}

 In this speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1961, he speaks to what each person can do to make their life’s “blueprint”. Though originally directed to an audience of young Blacks, it is important for all to see and hear.

Calendar of Events

Listed here are webinars, events, and activities to learn aboutbe inspired  and take action on racial and social justice issues. Events are often free, and many are offered virtually.

  • January 14th – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe Prayer Breakfast returns to an in-person event at theCrowne Plaza Hotel, 8 am. Get details and information on tickets and donations here
  • January 16th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe offers its Peace March and Rally, starting at 11:30 am, at St. James AME Church. Get details here.
  • January 24th – The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, Just Economics, Operation Gateway, and United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County offer the Buncombe Benefits Cliff Calculator, a tool to help employees/benefits recipients, employers and the community understand how changes in income impact a person’s eligibility for various public assistance programs. The half-hour Information session starts at 11:30 am to introduce this tool and answer questions so Buncombe County residents and organizations can use it as it was intended and share it with those who need it most. You can register here.  
  • February 2nd – Carolina Jews for Justice has invited Dr. Dwight Mullen, chair of the Asheville Reparations Commission, to speak on this important issue, 11:30 am. To register, go here. (Note: This event offers two ways to participate: via zoom or in person at Land of Sky UCC, 15 Overbrook Place.) For more information and other ways to get involved, please contact CJJ Statewide Community Organizer Lisa Forehand.

Calls to Action or Engagement

In this section, the Project highlights ways for people to take action or be engaged in important events or activities.

New & Upcoming:

  1. The Board of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County is thrilled to announce that after two years of virtual celebration, the 2023 Celebration events will return to an in-person format including the Prayer Breakfast. This will be the 42nd year of service and celebration, and the theme is Audacious Action During Uncertain Times. Get details from this article that also appeared in the last several editions of this e-newsletter. 
  2. For those interested in getting tickets or a table for the Prayer Breakfast or making a donation, go here.
  3. For information on the Rally and Peace March on Monday, January 16th, get details from this article
  4. The Racial Justice Coalition offered this release asking members of the community to support efforts by the Reparations Commission for its second recommendation: to stop the harm of Black people in Asheville and Black County by conducting an official audit to determine where the City and Council may be out of compliance.
  5. Winter Safe Shelter is a collaborative effort of Trinity United Methodist, Grace Covenant Presbyterian, Grace Episcopal, and Counterflow Asheville. They are seeking to serve and partner with our neighbors experiencing homelessness. The shelter is prioritizing intact families, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), and LGBTQ individuals. They currently have raised roughly half the budget needed to staff the shelter through the winter and are seeking donations from the community. You can find more information about the shelter as well as a place to donate here


  1. Pisgah Legal Services has announced that open enrollment has started for Marketplace health insurance and will be available until January 15th. Get details from their website.
  2. The Racial Justice Coalition has a webpage on its website that highlights two of its projects. Go here to get details for Every Black Voice and the Government Accountability Project. Each is open for people to support.
  3. Want to have fun and learn about the history of Black Asheville? Take a Hood Huggers Tour. Get details about Hood Huggers International from their 2022 Year in Review here, and how to book a tour here.
  4. The Reparations Stakeholders Authority of Asheville has created the RSAA Reparations Fund. Here is information on how people can learn and support this effort organized by the Tzedek Social Justice Fund.
  5. Members of the Jewish community in WNC are working together to address racial injustice in our community. It starts with learning, but plans are moving forward on ways to take action. A new quarterly e-newsletter, “Becoming Antiracist”, has been started. If you are interested in learning more, contact Adrienne Hollifield.

A Brief But Spectacular take the narrative about people who commit violent crimes

In this Brief but Spectacular segment from the PBS NewsHour, Keith Wattley, lawyer and founding member of UnCommon Law, speaks to how people need to change the narrative of those who commit violent crimes.

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. In this audio interview from NC Policy Watch, Jean Parks shares her story and thoughts about the death penalty calling for its end in NC.
  3. The Racial Justice Coalition completed an important report to learn from those most impacted by structural racism in Asheville and Buncombe County. Get details and a link to the Walk the Walk report here
  4. The Racial Justice Coalition completed a year-end report for the work of its Government Accountability Project. Go here to see the important work they accomplished.
  5. Many people know that there has been a vigil in front of Governor Cooper’s house asking him to end the death penalty in NC. That vigil appears to have been a contributing factor in his recent decision to commute the sentences of six people currently incarcerated in North Carolina prisons and grant pardons of forgiveness to four other people. Get details from this article in NC Policy Watch.

Mother and son who are both poet laureates work to inspire others

In this segment from the PBS NewsHour, hear how a mother-son duo of poet laureates bring poetry to the masses.

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. As in each edition of this e-newsletter, the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project continues to highlight several items from EJI.

  1. EJI is currently working with nearly 100 communities to advance Community Remembrance Projects. 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 who were lynched are captured in this document
  4. The Equal Justice Initiative shared this webpage of the Historical Markers Installation Ceremony In Asheville on October 30th of 2021.

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.

Lizzo Is The People’s Champion | People’s Choice Awards 2022

In this video, Lizzo accepts her award as The People’s Champion live at the 2022 People’s Choice Awards. She uses her acceptance speech to recognize so many who have acted for social justice.

Learning About Vaccine Hesitancy from the Recently Vaccinated

Learning About Vaccine Hesitancy

The Arkansas CEAL research team surveyed recently vaccinated people during the required 15-minute observation period. The results gave them insights into their communities and how individuals make health decisions.

Despite the hope and proven protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, about one in five U.S. residents have not received a vaccine. In some areas of the country, the rate of vaccination is even lower. In the state of Arkansas, about 56% of residents were up to date with vaccines as of August 2022, which is up from 40% in July 2021.

What goes into the decision to get vaccinated? What tips the scale towards “yes” if you’re hesitant? Who better to ask than those just vaccinated?

(Read the 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.

2023 Peace March and Rally, Buncombe Benefits Cliff Calculator, Carolina Jews for Justice, Dr. Dwight Mullen, Every Black Voice, Government Accountability Project, homelessness, Hood Huggers Tour, Keith Wattley, Lizzo, NC Policy Watch, Pandemic Resources, Prayer Breakfast, Remembrance Project, Vaccine Hesitancy

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