(November 20, 2023) CROWNSVILLE, MD – Governor Wes Moore today announced that the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust have launched a project aimed at identifying lineal descendants or communities that are culturally affiliated with the remains of at least 15 individuals of African or possible African descent that are currently housed at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory in Calvert County, Maryland.
“In order for us to be able to move forward, we must both remember and value our past,” said Governor Moore. “I encourage anyone that has information about these African American communities to speak up, get involved, and ensure our descendants are treated ethically and responsibly.”
This collaborative project, entitled “Engaging with Descendant African American Communities,” will use genealogical records, land record research, and potentially DNA testing to identify a path forward for returning these remains to the earth in a manner consistent with the State of Maryland Regulations for the Transfer of Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects. The project will actively engage with descendant communities in an ethical and inclusive manner and will result in a plan for the respectful reburial of the remains that recognizes their cultural importance and historical legacy.
“The Maryland Historical Trust is pleased to partner with the Commission on this important and innovative project,” said Maryland Historical Trust Executive Director Elizabeth Hughes. “We are hopeful that this innovative Maryland project will serve as a model for others.”
Most of these remains were recovered as a result of discoveries that took place from the 1960s through the 1990s. Current policy discourages the excavation of human remains and strongly encourages preservation in place. All remains are housed in “an appropriate place of repose” at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory and are not accessible to the general public.
“This project is incredibly timely and meaningful,” said Chanel Compton, Executive Director of the Banneker-Douglass Museum and Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture. “Because of technology and collaboration, we have the opportunity to share the untold stories of Black lives in our state that will build a deeper understanding of Maryland’s history.”
Properties associated with these remains include sites near Deep Creek in Anne Arundel County, the Gott Cemetery in Calvert County, Chapel Point in Charles County, Bennetts Point in Queen Anne’s County, and Twin Oaks in Wicomico County. If you have information about African American communities in these areas or have an interest in being kept up to date on project activities and findings, please complete the google form at https://forms.gle/zcW2mTStAQj1DLsY6
The mission of Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture is to interpret, document, preserve, and promote Maryland’s African American heritage, to provide technical assistance to institutions and groups with similar objectives, and to educate Maryland’s citizens and visitors about the significance of the African American experience in Maryland and the nation.
The Maryland Historical Trust is a state agency dedicated to preserving and interpreting the legacy of Maryland’s past. Through research, conservation, and education, MHT assists the people of Maryland in understanding their historical and cultural heritage. MHT is an agency of the Maryland Department of Planning and serves as Maryland’s State Historic Preservation Office pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
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