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The Tragic Backstory Behind a Historic Route 1 Cemetery

Just down Route 1 in D.C., a small plaque on a concrete column near the exit of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station is all that’s left of the historic Columbian Harmony Cemetery, once the city’s most prominent African-American cemetery.

But the plaque does not tell the whole story.

“Many distinguished black citizens including civil war veterans were buried in this cemetery,” it reads. “These bodies now rest in the new National Harmony Memorial Park Cemetery in Maryland.”

The Metro station, which is now surrounded by apartments and shops, is gaining new attention for a bar opening soon in a renovated Metro car parked on site.

But the tragic backstory of the land beneath the Metro station is not as widely known.

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Trader Foundation Board of Directors Positions

The Trader Foundation for Maryland Burial Sites is seeking candidates for open positions on its Board of Directors. Those wishing to apply should email traderfoundationmd@gmail.com. The Board meets twice each year to receive, review, and respond to grant applications for cemetery projects throughout the State of Maryland. The position requires that you assess each application and evaluate the merits of providing funding to accomplish its goal. Comments and questions should be sent to the email address above.

Hundreds turn out Juneteenth to stop desecration of Maryland cemetery

BETHESDA, Md.—Residents here used the occasion of Juneteenth celebrations, for the first time an official national holiday, to step up an ongoing struggle to stop the desecration of an African cemetery.

The Moses Cemetery is a place where freed Africans are buried, part of a tightly-knit Black enclave formed in the wake of the abolition of slavery in Maryland.

A coalition of activists had to be formed to save the cemetery after the arrival in 2017 of a company determined to build a self-storage facility on the site.

Several hundred members and supporters of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC), Macedonia Baptist Church, Claudia Jones School for Political Education, and speakers from local anti-racist organizations celebrated Juneteenth at the Moses African Cemetery on Saturday. The coalition, led by Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, seeks to stop the desecration of the Cemetery and memorialize the freed Africans buried there.

In 2017, the Montgomery County Planning Board gave self-storage developer 1784 Capital Holdings permission to build a facility on land legally designated “Parcels 242 and 191,” less than 100 yards from the historic cemetery. In July 2017, researchers from the Ottery Group investigated local “death notices and funeral announcements” from the early 20th century and found documentation that Moses Cemetery “received new internments” between 1911 and 1944.

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Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall Site Named One of the Most Endangered Historic Places in U.S.

PRESS RELEASE – Friends of Moses Hall, June 3, 2021, Cabin John, MD

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall site in Cabin John, Maryland one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2021.

“Saving the Morningstar Moses Cemetery and Hall site is how we make good on promises to expand our infrastructure in an equitable way without further destruction of communities of color. Past disregard for the heritage of the community of Gibson Grove in transportation projects has already resulted in the loss of an important part of our full American story. This endangered listing challenges us to do the right thing today as we expand our infrastructure, so there will be no additional wrong to correct in the future, and it also calls attention to the threats facing African American cemeteries across the country.”
– Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation

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Headstone of wealthy 19th century free Black man found in Annapolis cemetery

John Maynard, born a free Black man in Annapolis in 1810, died at the age of 64, a wealthy property owner in the city.

After he was buried in St. Anne’s Cemetery decades ago, the exact location of Maynard’s headstone in the city graveyard was mostly forgotten. It became one of the hundreds of markers filling the hilly plot in the shadow of the majority-Black Old Fourth Ward.

But thanks to the sharp eye of Annapolis historian Janice Hayes-Williams and with the help of cemetery maps provided by Ginger Deluca, co-chair of St. Anne’s Cemetery Committee, the worn gray headstone was rediscovered this week nestled between two bushes, covered in dirt, branches and grass clippings.

A clean break at its base indicates it broke off its foundation at some point and was perhaps placed under the bushes for safekeeping, said Mark LaBuda, St. Anne’s manager. Other broken headstones are often propped up against the cemetery walls.

Now, Hayes-Williams hopes to find a place to display Maynard’s headstone permanently to teach future generations about the city’s Black history. A logical spot, she said, would be in the backyard of the historic Maynard-Burgess House on Duke of Gloucester Street that Maynard owned from 1847 until his death in 1875.

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