Skip to Main Content

COVID-19 Updates, Testing and Vaccines

Stay up to date

Women's History Month As Told By Buncombe Women

As we celebrate Women's History Month, the Communications and Public Engagement Team wants to share insight on what the month means to some of the women in our organization. Below you will find insights from our County Manager, three of our Commissioners, and members of our Women's Commission.

From Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women’s History Month is a chance each year to celebrate the achievements of heroic women – whether they are everyday people or well-known figures – and to recommit to working for a present and future in which women are equal. It’s also a chance to think about the women in our lives who have made a difference in the lives of others, like family members, teachers, coworkers, neighbors, and community leaders.

Who is one history-making woman you would like to honor and why?
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is a history-making researcher who helped lead the process of creating a COVID-19 vaccine. She is from Hillsborough, NC, and I’m so inspired by who she is and the life-saving work she is doing. Read more about her here.

What can we learn from women’s history to guide Buncombe County moving forward?
We can learn that our community is stronger when everyone is at the table and has the opportunity to follow their dreams and thrive.

From Commissioner Amanda Edwards

From Commissioner Terri Wells
I celebrate the generations of strong women of Sandy Mush who built and sustained community through hard work, tenacity, and caring stewardship of their community. I was fortunate to grow up in this farming community surrounded by women who got things handled.

One example that comes to mind is Betty Duckett, who along with other women in the community, organized in the 80s to fight back with facts against the DOE’s proposed nuclear waste repository. The DOE officials said they had no intention of disrupting farming operations and that there were only a few wells in Sandy Mush. Their lack of knowledge about our community spurred Betty and the other women to conduct their own research and present their findings.

In 1985, they presented that 209 Sandy Mush families had 68 wells at depths from 25-400 feet, 637 springs plus numerous higher in the mountains. That year they sold 220,825 pounds of tobacco, 6,059,000 pounds of milk, and 1,008 cattle, as well as tomatoes, corn, and beans. Sandy Mush boasted two Christmas tree farms, a trout farm, and an herb nursery.

Thanks to their initiative and groundwork, Betty and these women helped ensure that our community did not become an environmental wasteland, but rather continues to be an intact farming community with some of the most productive farmland and the highest concentration of conserved land in the county.

I celebrate them and the countless other women across our county who do the necessary work of community building and stewardship, without regard to recognition. They see what needs to be accomplished, and they set about doing it. Thank you. I celebrate you, not for a month, but throughout the year because your daily actions, your tenacity, and your stewardship builds and sustains our community.

From County Manager Avril Pinder

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Similar to Black History Month, this is a time carved out to honor women and recognize their achievements and contributions to society. Because of the events and women before me, I have this opportunity to be a County Manager without the struggles women have endured in the past, such as fighting for voting rights. Those freedoms they earned allow me to have this position.

Who is one history-making woman you would like to honor and why?
My mother. Growing up, she told me with God’s help I could be anything I wanted to be. That attitude helped me never see gender-based barriers on what my future could hold.

As for my mother, she was a strong, God-fearing woman. She had high expectations for us, provided the support we needed to succeed, and never doubted we would reach our full potential. Also, I never saw her lose her cool, she was always composed and centered in her faith. Those characteristics are the foundation of who I am. She taught me the importance of faith, loyalty, and compassion.

What can we learn from women’s history to guide Buncombe County moving forward?
Women’s history is everybody’s history. For me, what leads Buncombe County forward is making sure everyone is included. It’s vital that we consider how we have a place that is welcoming for everybody. Buncombe County shouldn’t exclude anyone because of their gender, sexual orientation, or race. I’m constantly asking myself how we can be open and accepting of everyone. This principle goes back to struggles women historically had to overcome; and now that we are at the table, we need to be open to everyone.

I look around this community and see so many strong women in positions of leadership. But, as women’s issues and needs evolve, it’s important to always be in dialogue about these topics.

From Carmen Ybarra, Buncombe County Women’s Commission, Community Organizer for Just Economics

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women's History Month is 31 days to honor and gain strength from all the women who came before us. It is a chance for us to dig a little deeper and learn a bit more about the great women who have created a path for the women of today. It is also, for me, a month to celebrate those women in today's society that are making history.

Who is one history-making woman you would like to honor and why?
I honor the passion, dedication, and work of Dolores Huerta. She is a labor leader and civil rights activist. As a Mexican woman who was marginalized for her gender and ethnicity, she has always had a fire within her to change society. She cofounded the Community Service Organization that focused on the rights of migrant farm workers and later became a cofounder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) along with César Chávez. Her work was instrumental to organizing the Delano Grape Strike. She organized myriad successful campaigns for the UFW. Working side-by-side with Gloria Steinem, she has organized to further the advancement of women and to advocate for increased intersectionality in organizing.  Her work toward breaking down barriers for women and for the LatinX community Women's Rights inspires me every day.

What can we learn from women’s history to guide Buncombe County moving forward?
I hope we can all learn from the great women that came before us.  It is my hope that this month, we all can also better learn how to support, advocate, and honor all women.

From Ann Van Brock, Buncombe County Women's Commission

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women's History Month is a time for people to learn about the many significant contributions women have made over the years to our country and our own communities. Only because so little is taught in schools about the roles of women in science, language, math, and civics, do we need such a month. I hope one day the accomplishments of women will be automatically included in all stories of the history of the USA. 

Who is one history-making woman you would like to honor and why?
I am honoring Wilma Sherrill. Ms. Sherrill served twelve years (1994-2006) as a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly, before retiring. She has been a business owner in Asheville and a tireless supporter of women. She was instrumental in passing legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. She has been a fierce defender of equal rights for women.

What can we learn from women’s history to guide Buncombe County moving forward?
From Wilma Sherrill, we can learn how to cross political divides and work together to strengthen our community. If we can truly value the knowledge and skills that each woman possesses, Buncombe County will move forward in every conceivable aspect.