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The State Theater
Havre de Grace, Harford County, Maryland

The 32st Annual Meeting of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites (video link) opened at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, to welcome members and guests to the Coalition’s first 100 percent in-person meeting since 2019. The State Theater was an ideal venue, a friendly early-20th century building that is prominent in Havre de Grace’s entertainment scene. Board member Reginald Bishop welcomed attendees to his beautiful, historic home city.

President Eileen McGuckian conducted the brief business meeting, which included reports from Treasurer Reginald Bishop, Membership Chair Kristin Kraske, and Trader Foundation Secretary Glenn Wallace. Re-elected for the 2024-2026 term were Secretary Anne Brockett, Treasurer Reginald Bishop, and Directors James Lanier, Candy Warden, and Melvin Mason, and new Director Katie Myers of Howard County.

President McGuckian looked back over the past 32 years to accomplishments of the Coalition. Starting with the efforts of Barbara Sieg in 1992, we have identified and filled a much-needed niche, by demonstrating how important cemeteries are to our history and sense of place, why citizens and governments should care about burial sites, and how vulnerable are these places all over Maryland.

CPMBS remains an all-volunteer organization, relying upon networking and spreading the word. Providing information to owners, descendants, and advocates continues to be a prime part of our mission, through frequent personal requests, via the website, Coalition Courier, and The Coalition Guide to Burial Site Stewardship.

We continue to request updates of the County Pages with vital information and resource links. We want to continue building partnerships in every corner of Maryland, and to bring in new advocates and supporters. Coalition members are committed to physically assisting two clean-ups each year somewhere in Maryland, and look for requests from local organizations.

Improving Maryland protective burial sites law remains another high priority. As most proposals filed at the 2024 General Assembly did not pass through committees, it was agreed to start the process earlier for 2025 — assembling a working committee, creating priorities, identifying legislative sponsors, and building support around the state for specific proposals. More minds, hands, and boots on the ground are needed for this effort.

CPMBS encourages every Maryland county, town, and jurisdiction to identify the burial sites within its borders. Almost half of the counties do not have inventories that can provide this information for home reference and for a state-wide database to be used as a solid foundation of protection, legislation, preservation, and active participation that needs to follow. Tina Simmons reported about the on-going effort to create this data base of cemeteries.

The Coalition hopes for greater attention to a report delivered to the Maryland General Assembly in 2022, regarding the needs of historical African American cemeteries and obstacles they encounter. The study and report, led by the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Maryland Historical Trust, resulted in findings and solid recommendations that you can read here. The ability to establish ownership remains a major hurdle for many advocates.

Individuals and organizations interested in participating in Coalition committees, initiatives, clean-up sessions, educational programs, etc. are encouraged to contact us at mail@cpmbs.org.

Keynote presentations:

The 2024 Periwinkle Awards were presented to the Friends of Oella Cemetery of Ellicott City and to Janice Hayes-Williams of Annapolis.

An informative Open Forum and interactive Group Discussion completed the indoor sessions. Lunch, special cupcakes, and Bomboy gift bags personalized the event.

The day ended with travel to nearby Mount Erin Cemetery and adjacent St. James Cemetery. Despite rain, attendees appreciated learning about and visiting these special places.

Next year in Hagerstown! (May 5, 2025)

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