The MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County announces inaugural John Lewis Awards

Press release from the MLK Association of Asheville & Buncombe County:

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County’s Community Outreach Providing Empowerment (COPE) committee is proud to announce the first recipients of its John Lewis Award.

On Sat. Feb. 25th at 2pm, the MLK Association will honor these four men with an award ceremony at the Lenoir-Rhyne University Graduate school site in Asheville located at 36 Montford Ave. We celebrate and thank these inaugural MLK Association John Lewis Award honorees for their leadership and inspiring service to our community.

This award honors men in our community who have:
• Fostered a culture of inclusion in the Asheville community.
• Worked to achieve a just society for the disadvantaged.
• Exemplified a nonviolent philosophy in pursuit of a better life for non-majority people.
• Inspired direct action in the cause of social justice.

Our 2023 John Lewis Award honorees are:

Mr. Matthew Bacoate Jr. was the founder, manager, and owner of AFRAM, Inc., the largest African American-owned business in Asheville history. He is a veteran, community activist, and a builder of economic development projects and interracial relationships in Asheville and across North Carolina.

Mr. Quentin Miller is the first African American Sheriff of Buncombe County. In 2022, he was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. The task force focuses on addressing existing policies and procedures that unfairly
affect communities of color.

Dr. Dwight Mullen is professor emeritus at UNC-A. He led his UNCA students in an annual research project, “The State of Black Asheville,” collecting and presenting an array of data on the severe racial disparities in Asheville. Currently he is the chair of Asheville’s historic Community Reparations Commission.

Mr. Al Whitesides is the first African American to serve as a commissioner in Buncombe County. He has also been the Chair of the Asheville City Schools board, and Chair of the UNC Asheville Board of Trustees among many other public service roles.

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