MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County celebrates 41 Years of Commemorating Dr. King’s Dream and Legacy

Press release from MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County:

ASHEVILLE, NC – January 12, 2022 The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County invites the community to its 41 Years of Commemorating Dr. King’s Dream and Legacy event. The 2022 programming schedule will be hosted via YouTube, and will showcase historical events such as the Candlelight Service, Peace March & Rally, and the well-known Prayer Breakfast. Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project, will be the Prayer Breakfast Keynote Speaker.

“This year, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have had to pivot from our usual face-to-face celebrations in which we have come together as the “Beloved Community” through our annual Prayer Breakfast, Peace March and Rally, Community Candlelight Service Award and our year-long Community Outreach Providing Empowerment (COPE) Initiative. We are together again virtually this year; however, it does not make our work, community, and fellowship any less important.” -MLK Association President, Dr. Oralene Simmons
The MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County also recognizes community members that show outstanding qualities of leadership, compassion and community-building. The 2022 MLK Community Service Award winners are as follows:

Mr. Billy Gardenhight, golfing/athletics-civic leader, to be awarded posthumously

Mrs. Julia Ray, longtime community leader who recently celebrated her 107th birthday

Dr. Joseph L. Fox, Regional Community Leader, Member of the MLK Board

Mayor Esther Manheimer, City of Asheville Mayor, leader for many civil rights initiatives

Mr. Bruce Waller, longtime community-business leader, director of Black Wall Street AVL

Ms. Brenda G. Mills, Director of Equity & Inclusion, City of Asheville

Mr. Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County Registrar of Deeds

Ms. Copland Arnold Rudolph, Exec. Dir., Asheville City Schools Foundation

Rev. Dr. Kirk Brown, community leader-teacher, recently retired chaplain at Christ School

Starting Saturday, January 15, 2022, the 41st  Annual Celebration will be offered to the community free of charge daily starting at 9:00 am. Access to the daily events will be through the organization’s YouTube channel, which will be found on the organization’s website

The Schedule of Events:

Saturday, January 15 – 9:00 am
Prayer Breakfast
Keynote Speaker
Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project
Sunday, January 16
“Service to the Beloved Community”
• Welcome, Dr. Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons, President, Martin Luther King, Jr. Association
• Martin Luther King, Jr. Areas of Focus, Dr. Joseph Fox, Vice-President, Martin Luther King, Jr. Association
• Introduction to the Service Project and Beloved Asheville Video
Monday, January 17
Peace March and Rally
“State of Affairs”
• Opening Welcome, Dr. Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons
• Greetings, Dr. Joseph Fox, Chair, Peace March and Rally
• Greetings from the City of Asheville and Buncombe County
• Understanding the Protest, Jonathan McCoy, Board Member, Martin Luther King, Jr. Association, and the Director of the Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (CDEI), Mars Hill University
• Protest Art Video in Partnership with the Asheville Area Arts Council
• March from St. James AME Church to Pack Square Park & St. James’ Fish Fry (Tentatively based on COVID-19 Guidelines)
-Candlelight Service
“Honoring Community Leaders”
Keynote Speaker, Rev. Brenda Gilbert, Archdeacon of the Episcopal Diocese of WNC

Tuesday, January 18
Community Action Videos
Wednesday, January 19
Closing Celebration
“Call to Action”
• Opening Welcome & Call to Action, Dr. Oralene Anderson Graves Simmons
• Partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative, and Closing Ceremony, Dr. Joseph Fox
North Carolina Asheville, & Biltmore Company.

Platinum Sponsors for this year’s celebration include University of North Carolina, Deerfield, Biltmore, and Givens Communities

This year’s virtual commemoration is produced by Aisha Adams Media Group. Aisha Adams Media Group specializes in equipping and supporting equity advocates as they cultivate spaces of diversity, equity, and inclusion through Lenoir-Rhyne Equity & Diversity Institute, The Asheville View, and Equity Over Everything. Learn more at

For more information on the MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County, please visit here:

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