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Top Black Male Community Leaders Featured on Webinar



AARP, ABIPA Partner to Provide Listening Platform To Help Build Racial Equity in Asheville, Buncombe County 

On the heels of their highly-successful first virtual event, which attracted more than 200 registered participants, AARP NC Mountain Region and the Asheville Buncombe Institute of Parity Achievement (ABIPA) announced the panel lineup for their second one-hour webinar focused on racial equity and understanding entitled “Creating Advocates of Change:  Racial Justice and Equity Part 2.”   

The unique virtual event, which will feature some of the community’s leading African American male leaders, will be staged on Thursday, Sept. 3 at noon. Register free at  https://bit.ly/AdvocatesForChange2 .

“The feedback from our first event (Aug. 20) was incredible,” said Rebecca Chaplin, associate state director of AARP North Carolina Mountain Region. “The issues addressed and constructive advice given by our community leaders really hit the mark and provided a foundation of understanding that will serve us well as we strive to make Asheville a more inclusive and equitable place to live.”

While the initial webinar featured Black women leaders, the Sept. 3 program will be comprised of their African American  male counterparts.  They include: 

  • Al Whitesides, a long-time community activist and former banker who was the first African-American to serve as a commissioner of Buncombe County. 
  • Dwight Mullen, PhD, a 30-year professor of political science at UNC Asheville, a Fulbright Senior Scholar and the 2014 recipient of the UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award.
  • Robert Thomas, the Racial Justice Coalition Liaison (funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation) and Asheville native.
  • Philip Cooper, a regional organizer, counselor and advocate for policy change who manages a award-winning reentry program called UpSkill WNC.
  • Eric Gash, lead pastor of Speak Life Community Church in Hendersonville, and former North Carolina Tarheel football player who earned a Masters in Educational Leadership Studies from Gardner Webb University.


Participant questions will be taken during the registration process as well as during the webinar, with panelists providing answers both during and after the formal presentations.

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