The 1st Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) Juneteenth Commemoration saw hundreds of participants fill the area that is considered sacred by the descendant African-American community. Historians, speakers, singers and spoken word artists celebrated the courage of ancestors that survived slavery while criticizing local Montgomery County officials, such as County Executive Marc Elrich, charging that they have conceded their moral and ethical power to developers and permitted the desecration and pollution of one of the first post-emancipated settlements and burial grounds of emancipated Africans in Montgomery County.

A libation ceremony called upon the 17th century ancestors to fight in the spiritual world against their current 21st century oppressors. Speakers encouraged participants to vote against politicians in the upcoming elections who support the developers that are desecrating Moses Macedonia African Cemetery.  The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition is calling upon the County to convey the land, once owned by the Black River Road Community, back to the descendant church for memorialization and the creation of a museum and sculpture garden.

Recent environmental issues have surfaced in West Bethesda as a result of a permit that allows the developer to discharge potentially toxic water from the cemetery to the Willett Branch/Potomac River where children swim and animals receive water.

Quotes:

“Juneteenth should be not only a celebration of freedom, but also an opportunity to address continuing issues impacting minority communities.” Council on American-Islamic Relations’s Maryland Director Dr. Zainab Chaudry

“Montgomery County is building a monument to white supremacy in Bethesda over the graves of our tortured ancestors.  Even the KKK would not have desecrated African graves in daylight but Montgomery County and its officials sided with developers over the community.  What has been destroyed is irretrievable and their hate crime is unforgivable.” Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, President, Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition

“The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) calls for justice in the desecration of Moses Macedonia African Cemetery.  It’s shameful that Montgomery County officials are siding with developers in this racist and despicable act of disrespecting our ancestors.  We will remember the desecration when it comes time to vote.” Baba Mosi Matsimela, President, Woodsen-Banneker, Jackson Bey – UNIA-ACL Division 330 – RC2020

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