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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 County Remembrance Project

Photo by Laurie Johnson Photography

Due to COVID-19, most of our coordination and programming will be held online.

The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is part of the Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace and Justice nationwide initiative for individual counties throughout the United States.

The EJI is located in Montgomery, AL, and the Website states, “The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”


The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is a collaborative approach utilizing a diverse community coalition led by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.


The Buncombe Community Remembrance Project aims to acknowledge and remember individuals lynched in Buncombe County, as well as to:

  • More Accurately Reflect History of Racial and Economic Injustice and Inequity

  • Heal from the Silent Trauma Surrounding Racial Violence:

    • Jim Crow
    • Lynchings
    • Mass Incarceration
    • Violence in Communities
    • State Sanctioned Violence
    • Contemporary Racial Trauma and Violence
    • Such as “Black Lives Matter” 
  • Foster Local Conversations and Reflections Concerning Community Healing

  • Community Healing Through

    • Truth Telling
    • Educational Programming
    • Reconciliation Events
    • Transforming Narrative


Communications/PR Workgroup ~ Co-chairs: Dr. Oralene Simmons & Ron Katz

The overall purpose of the Communications/PR Workgroup is to be the authorized spokesperson for the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project.  All questions from the general public and/or reporters should be directed to the Chair (Dr. Oralene Simmons) or to the Chair’s designee. The Workgroup will also be responsible for the following:

  • Establishing press releases, articles, and interviews.
  • Inviting journalists and press to workshops, ceremonies, and events.
  • Inviting community members to the unveiling ceremony.


Community Engagement Workgroup ~ Co-chairs: Rev. Damita Wilder & Rebecca Brothers

The Community Engagement Workgroup will be responsible for developing strategies to ensure inclusion of community groups throughout the City of Asheville and Buncombe County.  The Workgroup will assist in identifying meeting spaces in which the Community Stakeholders’ Committee feels welcome, seen, and heard. The Workgroup will work in conjunction with the Communications/PR Workgroup to facilitate community articles that enhance community engagement, awareness, and discussion.


Museums Tour Workgroup ~ Chair: Yolanda Adams

The Museums Tour Workgroup is responsible for planning all aspects of arranging for community partners and stakeholders to visit the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.


Lynching Research Workgroup ~ Chair: Samantha Cole 

The Lynching Research Workgroup is responsible for following up on the research conducted by EJI related to recorded lynchings in Buncombe County, as well as conducting additional research pertaining to other possible lynchings that may have occurred throughout the County.  Research is to accomplish the following:

  • Involvement of college and university students in research efforts.
  • Reflect on the living members of the community who might have an authentic connection to experiences of racial violence, and to explore ways of ensuring their voices are represented in a substantive fashion.


Logistics/Historical Marker Site Location Workgroup ~ Chair: Carmen Ramos-Kennedy

The Logistics/Historical Marker Site Location Workgroup is responsible for the following:

  • Assessing the feasibility of potential installation sites.
  • Navigating through steps related to acquisition of needed permits, institutional approval, or municipal authorization.
  • Identifying local concrete, sign installation, or general contractor companies who can assist with physical installation of sign where municipal services are unavailable.
  • Incorporating a local Soil Collection ceremony and/or exhibit in the community prior to the historical marker installation.
  • Identifying stakeholders who can effectuate acquisition of needed land for the marker installation and/or neutralize political opposition against the acquisition of land for this purpose.
  • Plan a marker dedication and unveiling ceremony.


Essay Competition Workgroup ~ Chair: Eric Grant

The Essay Competition Workgroup is responsible for identifying stakeholders who can help distribute information about the Essay Contest to 9-12th Grade High School principals, teachers, students, parents, and other relevant role players, particularly regarding students living in low to moderate income communities.

Once the historic marker has been ordered for fabrication, EJI provides CRP coalitions with the necessary information to begin inviting local Grade 9 – 12 public high school students to participate in EJI’s Racial Justice Essay Competition. Students are challenged to write a response to information about historical events featured in our 2017 History of Racial Injustice calendar. We typically choose 4 to 5 winners and award over $5,000 in scholarships and prizes.


Educational Outreach Workgroup ~ Co-Chairs: Ed Manning, Jacquelyn Hallum & Dr. Darin Waters

The Educational Outreach Workgroup is responsible for establishing workshops, events, and presentations that highlight the work of the EJI and the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project.  The Workgroup attempts to develop strategies and educational programming that eliminates community pushback and/or opposition to the community truth telling, reconciliation, and transformation.  The Workgroup also identifies stakeholders who could plan, attend, and/or present/perform in a dedication and unveiling program that would feature a culturally relevant program in an accessible venue.


Compliance Workgroup ~ Co-chairs: Dr. Joseph Fox & Kimberlee Archie

The Compliance Workgroup is responsible for overall compliance and reporting to accomplish the goals of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project related to the Soil Collections and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice Monument Placement Initiative.  The main focus will be on the following required items:

  1. Organizing a Community Remembrance Project (CRP) coalition
  2. Complete the Historical Marker Proposal of Interest
  3. Reviewing and conducting Research about county lynching victims
  4. Crafting the Marker Language based on EJI and local historical society review, depending on the local process for marker approvals
  5. Identifying Site(s) for Installation of historical marker
  6. Securing Necessary Permits and Approval for marker installation
  7. Post-Land Securing Confirmation, EJI orders the historical marker to be fabricated
  8. Planning the Historical Marker Dedication and Unveiling Ceremony
  9. Facilitating the historical marker project affiliated High School Racial Justice Essay Competition leading up to marker installation
  10. Process Completion, including installing the historical marker(s) and holding the dedication and unveiling ceremony
  11. Sustain engagement post-historical marker dedication to potentially partner with EJI for the Memorial Monument Placement Initiative.
  12. Monitor compliance toward completing EJI’s Step-by-Step Project Checklist.


Contact Dr. Joseph Fox ( to participate as a member of any of the work groups.

Steering Committee Organizations

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Asheville City Schools 

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College

Buncombe County

Buncombe County Schools

Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority 

City of Asheville

City-County African American Heritage Commission

Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance

Interfaith Initiative for Social Justice

Leadership Asheville

Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County (Lead Organization)

Mountain Area Health and Education Center

NAACP/Racial Justice Coalition

River Front Development Group

University of North Carolina Asheville

Community Stakeholders’ Organizations

ACLU, WNC Chapter/Asheville Friends Meeting (Quakers)

AVL Art Museum

Beloved Asheville

Carolina Jews for Justice

Circle of Mercy 

Community Leaders

First Congregational UCC

First Presbyterian Church

Grace Episcopal 

History @ Hand

Ignite CSP/NC Stage

Interfaith Initiative for Social Justice


Local Churches

My Daddy Taught Me That

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI)

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville

WNC Community Health Services (WNCCHS)


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