(September 2020) Since June 2019, a diverse community coalition, led by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, has been working to establish and plan the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project to acknowledge and remember individuals lynched in Buncombe County. This effort is part of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) National Memorial for Peace and Justice’s nationwide initiative for individual counties throughout the United States.
To support its effort to raise $80,000 to implement the project and accomplish its broad community goals, the coalition opened a CFWNC charitable fund. CFWNC has committed to match the first $10,000 in contributions to the fund.
“Given all that is happening across the country with racial justice, we are honored to lead this county-wide project that acknowledges the horrors of the past as a means to heal as a community,” said Dr. Oralene Simmons, MLK Association President. “From Jim Crow laws and lynchings to mass incarceration and urban renewal, the Remembrance Project offers everyone in Buncombe County the opportunity to participate, learn and heal in order to build a stronger foundation of trust for our shared future.”
The EJI’s lynching memorial in Alabama occupies a six-acre site and includes 800 six-foot monuments symbolizing thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States - one for every county where lynchings took place, including Buncombe County. The goal of the Buncombe Community Remembrance Project is to support active community-led programming to engage with past and present issues of racial justice. Work groups have formed to address public involvement, a Legacy Museum tour, lynching research, the installation of a historical marker, education outreach and compliance with EJI regulations.
Following necessary work on the part of the citizens of Buncombe County, EJI will collaborate to place a monument - identical to the monument found at the National Memorial - in Buncombe County at a site that is yet to be determined. This monument and historical marker will help to move Buncombe County toward a more honest reflection of a shared history and a commitment to a better future for all.
“We believe this meaningful work has strong potential for Buncombe County, and we have gathered a steering committee and list of stakeholders that represent many facets and organizations,” said Dr. Joseph L. Fox, MLK Association Vice President and Remembrance Project Chair. “For our effort to be effective, it has to be inclusive and supported by our friends and neighbors of all persuasions. If you can help, please make a tax-deductible contribution to the fund so that we can undertake the Remembrance Project with reverence and to the high standards it deserves.”