Bethesda, Maryland -- The co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will join local activists in supporting the return of Mose African Cemetery to the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bethesda, during a rally Friday.
Descendants of those buried in the cemetery and church members will attend the rally at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 10, at 5119 River Road in Bethesda, while the co-chairs, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, will speak via Zoom.
The rally will be live streamed at Maryland Poor People's Campaign Facebook page
The Moses African Cemetery, where over 500 enslaved and free people are buried, lies under the parking lot of an apartment complex constructed by developers in the 1960s. After Emancipation, the cemetery served the historic African River Road Community in Bethesda, which was also wiped out by development, discriminatory developers, Realtors and county officials at the time.
“One of my most sacred duties is committing the souls of the deceased and ensuring the sanctity of their burial ground,” said the Rev. Dr. Segun Adebayo, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church. “Because of the county, we can’t do that now at our Moses African Cemetery.”
“Black lives must matter even -- and especially -- in death,” said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, president of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is supporting the return of the cemetery to the church “to end such economic violence against working people and return the cemetery back to its church and memorialize its dead and their descendants,” Rev. Theoharis said.
Leaders of the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign also pledged their support.
"We stand solidly behind the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition's struggle to end the continued desecration of Moses Macedonia African Cemetery,” Rabbi Alana Suskin and Rev. Angela Martin, co-chairs of the Maryland State Poor People's Campaign, said in a statement.
The support of Rev. Barber and Rev. Theoharis comes at a critical moment in the struggle for the cemetery. The BACC, the church and descendants recently won a temporary injunction blocking the attempted sale of the apartment building. A hearing on a preliminary injunction will be held Sept. 27.
“Our economic system has helped land developers and the county thwart Macedonia Baptist’s effort to restore the cemetery and erect a monument and museum there,” Coleman-Adebeyo said. “For example, while the county Parks Department recently passed a resolution ‘to end injustice and violence against African Americans,’ the county continues to refuse to save our historic cemetery from the economic violence of constantly encroaching development.”