The Legacy of William and Georgia Roland 
The Young Men’s Institute, now called the YMI Cultural Center, is one of the oldest Black cultural centers in the United States. Founded in 1892, the YMI offered community spaces including kindergartens, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and a public library for Black people.
W.E. Roland Jewelry Company sat just across the street at 24 South Market Street. William Ernest Roland and Georgia Evelyn Harling owned the store.
Mr. Roland led the Asheville-Buncombe County Citizens Organization, protecting voting rights and advocating for equal opportunities. Mrs. Roland was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the League of Women Voters.
The Rolands offered strategy, training, and meeting space to the Black teenagers who founded the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality (ASCORE) in 1960 and fought for equal rights.