History denied is history that is stolen

I feel like it sort of takes away somewhat from the church and the lodge hall because it’s so much taller than they are and they are the historical properties, not the tower. — neighborhood resident, August 2002.

A historic church, fraternal lodge, and tower in the heart of a Southern African American neighborhood, 2002.

This evening the Montgomery County Planning Board is poised to approve a new site plan for a proposed self-storage facility in Bethesda. The property where the facility is proposed once was part of an African American cemetery used by a Washington, D.C., benevolent organization during the first half of the twentieth century.

Like its counterparts throughout the United States in the federal, state, and local governments, the Montgomery County Planning Board and its staff in the Montgomery County Planning Department have failed to adequately take into account impacts to a historic African American property and a living community associated with it: the Moses Cemetery. An ethnocentric bias towards the cemetery is evident in all aspects of the County’s planning efforts dating back to the agency’s first involvement with the site as it was preparing the Westbard Sector Plan. Continue reading

Death and displacement

Concrete grave marker in an abandoned African American cemetery, Montgomery County, Maryland.

My latest article for The Activist History Review explores more than a century of serial displacement in two Washington area neighborhoods with a common connection: Bethesda’a Moses Cemetery.

People who lived in communities destroyed by urban renewal and gentrification frequently frame their narratives about displacement as theft. Their homes, businesses, and churches, they believe are stolen by capitalism. Spaces for the dead are among those stolen and erased.

For the rest of the story, read The Moses Cemetery: Where Serial Displacement Meets History.

© 2017 D.S. Rotenstein

Rally for the Moses Cemetery

RALLY TO SAVE BETHESDA AFRICAN CEMETERY – SUNDAY, NOV 12TH -1:30PM
When: Sunday, November 12, 2017, 1:30—3:30 PM
Where: Macedonia Baptist Church, 5119 River Road, Bethesda, Maryland

For more information, visit the Save Bethesda African Cemetery page on Facebook.

Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, Nov. 1, 2017.

Continue reading