Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Macedonia Baptist Church to protest cemetery "body snatchers" at MoCo Council meeting today

Protesters from Macedonia Baptist Church and the community will converge once again on the Montgomery County Council 3rd floor hearing room at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville at 1:00 PM today. The focus of the demonstration will be what the church is terming the "body snatchers" of the County Housing Opportunities Commission, which last month purchased the historic Moses African Cemetery in a land deal with Regency Centers, for $20 million. That property, which includes the Westwood Tower apartment building, holds some 500 graves, some of which are the final resting place of the first generation of freed slaves in America.

HOC, under public scrutiny after months of demonstrations at their headquarters, suddenly suggested in December that it was scrapping its plan to build a parking garage on top of the cemetery, which had been in the works (and includes a long paper trail of documents) for several years. While this was a short-term win for cemetery advocates, they remain skeptical that HOC is really giving up on land they paid $20 million for.

“Despite HOC’s claim that it has no plans ‘in the foreseeable future” to develop the land that houses our ancestors, it defies simple logic that HOC would borrow $20.5 million and not develop the land,” MBC Pastor Rev. Dr. Segun Adebayo said Tuesday. “And even if HOC has no plans for the land, the status quo is unacceptable.” The status quo is the cemetery having been desecrated, and then hidden under fill dirt and asphalt, by workers building Westwood Tower in the late 1960s.

“Out of sight out of mind may work for HOC but we care about the preservation of our history, the honoring of our heritage and recognition of the significant contribution those interred beneath HOC’s parking lot made to the the Bethesda and greater Washington, D.C. communities," MBC's Social Justice Ministry Chair Marsha Coleman-Adebayo said. "On Tuesday, we are going to let the Montgomery County Council know that we will not sit idly by as HOC’s body snatchers once again purchase our ancestors and treat their remains as if they are no more deserving than to be dumped in a mass grave.”

The cemetery and Macedonia Baptist Church are the only remaining properties from a lost African-American community along River Road, between today's Little Falls Parkway and Ridgefield Road. It lasted about 100 years, before black landowners were forced off their properties by developers in the 1950s and 1960s.


Anonymous said...

Just move the cemetery to where the Collection at Chevy Chase is now.

Two birds with one stone.

Anonymous said...

Daily reminder: The alleged cemetery land was owned by a Black benevolent society in the 1950's. They sold it in a legitimate transaction (notice the church is not filing suit to claim the transaction was invalid) that was properly recorded by the County Clerk.

The church should go after the original seller if they're so mad, or offer to buy the property from the current owner at market rate.

Also, why was the church not protesting this in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s?

Anonymous said...

@7:52 Or move the cemetery to the Church's parking lot. They have the room, and if they care about the bodies so much, they'll gladly give up a few spaces for it.

Anonymous said...

As with the Collection at Chevy Chase article, this is just the same article, repeating every two weeks, with a new photo or two added.

Anonymous said...

Dyer doesn't realize that his tax dollars went to buy that land and when HOC is good and ready, will move the graves (if there are even any left) and build another mixed income apartment like Bethesda needs in the future. That will happen after the extension of the purple line takes away the majority of the Crescent Trail and the DC Trolley on H Street connects to it in G-town. In the meantime, this is what a AAA bond rating provides to make a problem go away.

Anonymous said...

9:02 AM - Not even a new photo. This is from April of last year. If you review the articles on this subject you'll note that most of the photos are archived from about three events.

Anonymous said...

If I was working with and approving the body snatchers, I'd focus on complaining about the photo as well.

Anonymous said...

The cemetery and Macedonia Baptist Church are the only remaining properties from a lost African-American community along River Road, between today's Little Falls Parkway and Ridgefield Road. It lasted about 100 years, before black landowners fled high-tax and economically-moribund Montgomery County.

Robert Dyer said...

8:25: There are 500 bodies buried in the cemetery, and no room on the church property.

9:02: Only to you, with your 3rd grade reading level (and that's being generous). The typical Bethesda resident is having no problem recognizing the new information and events being discussed in each different article.

9:09: There have been probably two dozen events. You need to catch up.

9:08: We won't have the AAA bond rating for long - we have a structural deficit, the Council has maxed-out on taxes, and if the County's debt was a department, it would be the third largest department in the County government.