The Struggle for Bethesda African Cemetery

On December 8, 2016, the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bethesda Maryland made as request in a letter to the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission seeking historic designation of a old cemetery. Listing the roughly one-acre tract in a county atlas and index of historic sites would give church members and descendants of those buried “legal assurances that the cemetery site will not be disturbed or altered by development activities” accordng to church member Marsha Coleman-Adebayo.

Church members have spoken loudly against the idea of developing on and around land where they believe graves are located. The Montgomery County Planning Board in 2017 approved plans to build a self-storage facility at 5204 River Road, despite church members’ objections that the project could affect the cemetery site. This video documents the struggle by the Macedonia church members to obtain the rightful historic designation that the cemetery deserves.