BETHESDA, Md. (DC News Now) — The Bethesda African cemetery coalition led a march down river road in Bethesda to celebrate Juneteenth and bring awareness to a local cemetery in danger of being built over.
“The A.C.C is celebrating Juneteenth not as the end of a struggle but really as the beginning of the struggle,” Marsha Coleman-Adebayo said.
“We’re so proud of our ancestors in Texas and Galveston that fought for their freedom and we’re carrying on this edition of fighting for liberation fighting, fighting to stop the desecration of an African burial ground.”
The march began at the Macedonia Baptist Church and ended where the Moses Cemetery was supposed to stand. However, community leaders are speaking out against developers who want to build on top of the cemetery where ancestors who were laid to rest at the cemetery were recognized during the Juneteenth celebrations.
“Our ancestors are the bridge that carries yourself,” Coleman-Adebayo said. “Once you’re cut off from that knowledge, you’re cut off from a key ingredient, or how you move forward and you’re likely to have a lot of errors and strategy.”
Harvey Matthews, who used to walk through the cemetery as a child, says their ancestors’ history mustn’t be altered or forgotten.
“I feel that someone had to stand up and tell the story, and I am one of the last eleven descendants of river road that is still around,” Harvey Matthews said. “So it is my duty to show my face and stand firm and represent those people who can’t speak for themselves.”
The African Cemetery Coalition also has an exhibit about the history behind river road in Bethesda at the American University up until August.