Black cemeteries, some of them centuries-old relics, are at the center of controversies today.
In the latest instance, demonstrators rallied on Sunday near the site of a historical African-American burial ground in Bethesda, Md. to oppose plans to develop the property, Fox5 DC reported.
The protesters gathered at the Macedonia Baptist Church, located in a community that was once home to freed slaves. The demonstration was part of an ongoing battle to block a proposal to build a new parking garage on an existing parking lot that was built decades ago.
“We’ve been met with a lot of disrespect and disregard, but nevertheless we continue to go back and we continue to plead our case,” Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, leader of the church’s social justice ministry, told the news outlet.
In the 1960s, developers built the original parking lot on most of the cemetery. Excavators discovered human remains at the site but continued with the project anyway, a local historian told the news outlet.
He added that there were reports at that time that bulldozers pushed the remains to the edge of the cemetery before constructing the parking lot.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing unusual about the situation in Bethesda. In other cities throughout the nation, governments continue to neglect historic African-American cemeteries, the Washington Post reported. In Bethesda, the protesters said they want to see a museum or memorial built on the site to honor those who are buried at the cemetery.