We’re pleased to announce the launch of “The Bulletin,” a newsletter that will spread the word about the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) and its efforts to ensure that Moses Cemetery on River Road will be returned to the Black community whose ancestors lie beneath its soil.

This is sacred ground, particularly for members of the Macedonia Baptist Church, the last vestige of a once-thriving Black community that lived along River Road. The residents of that community were pushed out by developers, coercion and racist policies in the first half of the 1900s—but they should not be forgotten. 

It’s time to right those historic wrongs, honor the dead and celebrate the spirt of all those currently working to convince county government and the courts to stop further development at the site and consecrate this land with a memorial—even a museum—that will lift up the past and offer hope for healing in the future. 

We hope you’ll become a part of this mission, supporting the BACC, raising your voices, donating your time and treasure and celebrating the day when this cause is victorious. As BACC president Marsha Coleman-Adebayo often says, “The people always win.” Together, we can win. Join us. 

The Bulletin: Fourth Edition

We’re pleased to announce the fourth edition of “The Bulletin,” which features articles by Tammy Hilburn, Omali Yeshitela, and Charlie Martin.

Click here to read more.

Honoring “The Lost Colony” 
Lisa Moore

On December 8, an episode titled “Bethesda’s Lost Colony” aired on MSNBC ‘s podcast “Into America with Trymaine Lee.” In 46 minutes, it tells one of the most powerful stories many people in Bethesda have never heard—and all of us should learn by heart. 

Click here to read more.

It Starts at Moses
By Robert Stubblefield

A Poem.

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Interview with Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo:
A Look Into a Small Community on River Road
By Youssouf Diagana

The members of the Macedonia Baptist Church created the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) seven years ago. Made up of volunteers and racial justice campaigners, BACC fights to stop Moses Cemetery from being desecrated. Many early inhabitants of western and central Africa are interred in the Moses Cemetery, a graveyard on River Road.

Click here to read more.

Maryland Appeals Court Hears Case Over
African American Burial Ground in Bethesda
By Robert Stubblefield

The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County and the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition, an organization that has been fighting to preserve a historic African American burial ground on River Road in Bethesda, faced off in Maryland’s Court of Appeals Thursday.

Click here to read more.

BACC and Ben & Jerry’s
By Peter Volkov

Attending the Fillmore Theatre in protest of Jamie Raskin’s ignoring concerns for the desecration of Moses Cemetery, BACC protesters were accompanied by a local Ben & Jerry’s providing hot chocolate.

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The History of the Bethesda African Cemetery
By Kaleab Eshete

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 through the Macedonia Baptist Church. Made up of volunteers, activists, community groups and faith-based institutions, BACC primarily focuses on issues of social justice, and particularly the desecration of Moses Cemetery on River Road.

Click here to read more.

Colonization, Black Bodies and Death
Peter Volkov

When the Spanish colonizers initially came to the Philippine mainland, the first  thing they did was  destroy the histories, stories, culture, art and language to remove their capacity to resist and accept a history forced on them.
The same applies to the current assault upon the Black cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland. It is not an isolated case in Montgomery County, but instead throughout this country and practiced by ‘former’ colonial powers.

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Lending Her Voice
How artist-activist Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama Echefu uplifts the cause through song
By Lisa Moore

Imagine the elemental power of a rumbling volcano, the rush of a swift river or the sweep of potent wind through the pine — that’s the resonant voice of Dr. Karen Wilson-Ama Echefu, who is lending her powerful songs to the cause of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition and its quest for justice.

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Candidates for County Executive
Elizabeth Dorokhina

The candidates for county executive competing for the upcoming primary in June have not provided much support to the BACC community, but nevertheless, here is an explanation of their positions on Moses African Cemetery and other issues. All three candidates are democrats, and in a predominantly liberal county, the primary essentially determines the winner.

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Rev Segun Adebayo testifies before the HOC on January 8, 2020. (Photo credit: Gail Rebhan)

Living History
Fighting to sanctify sacred ground

By Tim Willard

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) has been seeking sanctification of a historic African American burial ground that dates from the days of enslavement and was active until the 1930s, and recovery of the history of the once-thriving African American community in the area that was buried when the community was paved over.

Click here to read more.

Winning Back Stolen Land
Historic victory in California offers hope for return of Black lands
By Lisa Moore

A recent land-transfer victory in Manhattan Beach, California, offers a spark of hope for the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC) and all those working to save the Moses Cemetery, a patch of land near the McDonald’s on River Road that once held the remains of formerly enslaved people and their descendants.

Activist Kavon Ward celebrates as California Gov. Gavin Newsome announces the return of a strip of beach in California to descendants of the Black family that once owned the land.(Photo credit: E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinal)

Click here to read more.

(Photo credit: Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd)

Relationship: It’s Complicated
The evolving relationship between Macedonia Baptist Church and River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation

By David Ward

If there were ever an opportunity to build a sense of beloved community between one of the last surviving Black churches in Bethesda and the liberal, nearly all-white River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation – less than two miles north on River Road – you’d think it would be a no-brainer.

Click here to read more.

(Photo credit: Kaleab Eshete)

The Brightness of a Cemetery
My reasons for joining the BACC
By Kaleab Eshete

I first heard of BACC a year ago. I was nearing the end of my junior year and was cautiously looking for internships that I could begin over the summer. After a long and thorough search, it seemed as if no company could ever catch my eye or even interest me in the slightest. Then while I scrolled down the seemingly endless list of companies and law firms, I caught a glimpse of something different. Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition. Interesting.

Click here to read more.

Resources to Learn More

Hear BACC Founder Marsha Coleman-Adebayo speak about Moses Cemetery at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation (beginning at minute 42:18): https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=OVJZwUVnzwU 

BACC International Conference on Black Stolen Lands, Desecrated Burial Grounds and MAAFA:

Part I:  https://www.facebook.com/ 1622223501174804/videos/ 895002761141867

Part II: https://www.facebook.com/ bethesdaafricancemetery/ videos/1267074757093066 

Rev. William Barber, co-chair, Poor People’s Campaign Press Conference: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=fsAnB6FG-MY 

Travis Smiley Podcast: 

https://soundcloud.com/user- 291941013/tavis-smiley- podcast-marsha-coleman- adebayo-and-rev-segun-adebayo- interview

NPR: Tamika Smith interviews Steve Lieberman, lawyer for the BACC.

https://wamu.org/story/21/10/ 04/listen-court-will-rule-on- future-of-bethesda-burial- ground-of-formerly-enslaved- people/

Voice of America Reporting on the River Road Community

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=K8aASOo0MiQ

Black News Report about Moses Cemetery

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=cZDenaNVgno

Press Conference: BACC on Court Victory in front of courthouse

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=xxxWnK7kZlc

We hope you enjoyed

Until next time!

The BACC Newsletter Team