Macedonia Baptist Church has filed a formal request with the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission and Planning Board to have the threatened Moses African Cemetery declared historic. “With this filing, Macedonia is engaging the protective laws that were in place over two years ago when the Historic Preservation Commission informed the county that Parcels 175 & 177 were ‘of high archeological interest,’" church leaders said in a statement. "Right then and there the County should have embraced HPC’s recommendations to purchase the land and protect it."
Parcels 175 and 177 are parts of a historic black cemetery that contains among its remains the first generation of freed slaves in Maryland, adjacent to the Westwood Tower apartments on Westbard Avenue and an auto repair shop on River Road. Past members of the lost African-American community along that stretch of River Road are buried there, and some of their descendants have been located and are engaged in the fight to prevent the graveyard from development.
In their statement, the church refers to the Montgomery County cartel that I often reference on this website, a cartel that has been behind a team County government effort to steamroller the church and descendant community all of this year. "Land use in Montgomery County is controlled by a rogue cartel of developers and compromised county officials—by serious conflicts of interest because of the campaign contributions developers pour into county elections. 'This cartel was on full display Thursday night when it rubber stamped the further desecration of Moses Cemetery and ignored the wishes of the community yet again,'" Macedonia social justice director Marsha Coleman-Adebayo said.
Harvey Matthews, a church trustee and resident of the lost River Road community until his family was forced off its land in the late 1950s, noted that Montgomery County gives greater protected status to pet cemeteries than to black cemeteries like Moses. "Shockingly, the County will protect dogs and cats and snakes—in perpetuity—under the dictates of historic preservation law," Matthews said Wednesday. "Maybe they would let our ancestors—who were often treated by veterinarians while enslaved—rest in peace beside Fido, and Garfield and Monty Python.”
The church's request requires the HPC by law to begin the process of adding the Moses Cemetery site to the Montgomery County Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites. That interim step temporarily prevents any additional development at the two parcels in which the cemetery was established in 1911.