Skip to main content
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 2023

In Gratitude

As noted in the January edition, there is change happening with this e-newsletter. Dr. Joseph Fox stated that “the torch is being passed” as I will no longer edit these monthlies. Part of that is happening because change is necessary. If we are asked to grow and do additional tasks, we must let go of some of the ones we are currently doing.

I plan to continue to support the e-newsletter, the legacy of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County. I have gained so much from my experience working with the members of the Project’s steering committee, the Communications committee of the Project, the folks who traveled to Montgomery and Selma last summer and more.

However, what I am most thankful for are the relationships that have resulted. There are many in our community who are interested in moving forward no matter what our history has been. That task is not always easy and mistakes are sometimes made, but the key is continuing to try and to work together, and that is happening within our community.

There are many people that I would like to thank, but there are three that have been involved almost from the beginning in this journey. Dr. Oralene Simmons continues to bring earnestness to racial equality and justice, and I have been honored to work with her. Virginia Pett was the assistant editor who often shared articles she thought should be included and was one of the group that looked over the draft of the e-newsletter to correct errors and make suggestions. Dr. Joseph Fox was the leader/facilitator for the Project, and I gained so much from his wisdom and support.

The e-newsletter will be in good hands. 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.

As Dr. Fox stated in the January edition, 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

hanks to all who gave me this opportunity!

Ron Katz
Outgoing Editor

The Black Church and the Civil Rights Movement

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

The Black Church has always played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement as a place not only for worship, but also as the hub of information, a place for meetings, and a place of unity. Marilyn Mellowes provided research for a PBS series entitled “God in America,” related to the role of the Black Church. Some of the highlights from the series included the following:

The term “the Black Church” evolved from the phrase “the Negro Church,” the title of a pioneering sociological study of African American Protestant churches at the turn of the century by W.E.B. Du Bois. In its origins, the phrase was largely an academic category. Many African Americans did not think of themselves as belonging to “the Negro Church,” but rather described themselves according to denominational affiliations such as Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and even “Saint” of the Sanctified tradition. African American Christians were never monolithic; they have always been diverse and their churches highly decentralized.

(Read this entire article here.)

In this video, Martin Luther King, Jr. reads his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. This is an important video to view.

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. If you are interested in racial justice and equity, the Western North Carolina Racial Equity Collective is hosting several virtual REI (Racial Equity Institute) workshops heading into the new year. Go to the following links to register and/or express interest:  
     – REI Phase 1 Workshop– Friday & Saturday, Feb. 3 – 4, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
     – Three additional REI Phase 1 Workshops are being planned. Get details and express your interest by completing this form.
  2. The Racial Justice Coalition recently shared that Asheville City Council unanimously voted to approve the Community Reparations Commission’s Stop the Harm recommendation. Go to this link for complete details and a way to say thanks to City Council for their action.
  3. The Vigil for Freedom and Racial Justice concluded its third year outside of Gov. Cooper’s Executive Mansion. They were in Raleigh every day from December 1st, 2022 until January 1st, 2023 in solidarity with current and previously incarcerated folks. Get details about their efforts and a way for you to support their effort here.
  4. COMING THIS MONTH: Mission Health will be accepting applications for the Kesha Young Health Careers Scholarship. The aim is to make college more affordable for high school seniors and college students of color from WNC who are pursuing careers in healthcare. For those interested, please reach out via this email with questions or to receive updates. Here is the story from WLOS about the 2022 Scholarships.
  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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

This video is titled “Here’s the Problem with the Cash Bail System”. Efforts are happening to address this problem on many levels, and here is a way for you to take action locally to support those who are accused of a crime, have bail set, and can’t afford to pay their bail to get out of jail.

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.

  • February 2nd – Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) 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.
  • February 7th – CJJ-West is holding its first virtual meeting of the year for its Democracy Rights work group, 7 pm. All are welcome. Get details and register here for this virtual meeting. 
  • February 9th – The League of Women Voters Henderson County offers a webinar discussion about the US facing up to its past, 3 pm. Get details and register here
  • February 21st – The Interfaith Initiative for Social Justice holds its “annual meeting”, 7 pm. If interested, email Ron Katz to get the zoom link. 
  • February 23rd – Healthcare For All WNC will hold its next meeting, 6 pm, at the East Asheville Library.

In this segment from CBS Sunday Morning, Maryland’s incoming Governor Wes Moore speaks to the importance of giving people second chances. He notes his own story that resulted in a book he wrote, The Other Wes Moore.

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 and 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. COVID has spurred individuals and organizations to wrestle with self-reflection and change. The AME Church is doing just that. This article from the Associated Press offers details.
  5. Unfortunately, the attraction of the “Lost Cause” and Confederate monuments still remains. In this article, the town of Bradenton, FL is looking at returning just such a monument that was taken down in 2017.
  6. In this blog post from NC Policy Watch, the writer notes that as we observe the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, “no one should settle for a ‘piece of freedom’”.

In this segment from CBS Sunday Morning, they report on the new sculpture unveiled in Boston, The Embrace, and how it has not been universally accepted. The sculptor is not concerned or dismayed by critical remarks.

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.

Remembering the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”

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.

Carolina Jews for Justice, Cash Bail System, CJJ West, Dr. Dwight Mullen, Healthcare for All WNC, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, statue, The Embrace, The League of Women Voters Henderson County

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *