Beautiful moment. Historic day.
Representing the last county to form a chapter in Maryland, the Garrett County NAACP Branch (GCNAACP) was honored to be a part of such a historic event: the Bethel Center groundbreaking ceremony. Composed of community members and leaders, including NAACP Maryland State Conference President Willie Flowers, the crowd gathered with the direct Black descendants of the Bethel A.M.E. congregation in Mountain Lake Park on June 25, 2022.
“Everyone was so surprised that there is a significant group of Garrett County residents who are actively working for healing and reconciliation. Acknowledging the past is a necessary, but sometimes painful first step. GCNAACP is both proud and humbled to be an integral part of this journey,” said Dr. Daphne Gooding (Garrett County NAACP Branch President).
As Tifani Fisher (Allegany County NAACP Branch President and direct descendant of the Bethel A.M.E. congregation) states: “The moment was beautiful. This symbolic moment of gathering together to tell the story is so important. However, what is more important is that this is not just a moment. We need to work hard together to make sure this building is not just a structure. This is a unique moment in history where we have a choice to make. The choice to move past the acknowledgement of the history of Garrett County or to heal from it. In some ways, the example of the Western Maryland NAACP branches working together is the blueprint of how a powerful community coming together in unity can make true change.”
Forming a united front, the three Western Maryland NAACP branches – Washington County NAACP #7030, Allegany County NAACP #7007, and Garrett County NAACP #7139 – seek to walk hand in hand to preserve the complete history of our beautiful mountain communities while also ensuring that our work has a positive, profound effect on the present and future for all residents and visitors. Unity is the name of the game, and the Bethel Center groundbreaking is a foundational piece to creating an atmosphere of love, light, and healing.
Tifani Fisher continues: “So, my hope and the descendants’ hope for this project does not end with the restoration of the church. It is the restoration of a community that once lived in harmony before hate took over. It is, in essence, the first dose of medicine to heal the wounds from the painful past. The start of changing the impression that these mountains are filled only with racism and hate. The pathway to be the start for generations to come to not just know the true story of our mountains, but to see that racism and hate hold power only when we refuse to address it. I like to think that some day my grandchildren and great grandchildren will walk into this church and say this project was the start of our communities coming together in humanity to create community that stands in unity and now we have equity and equality.”
From currently raising $13,458 for the Garrett County NAACP Scott Robinson Memorial Scholarship to hosting popular community presentations on myriad topics, GCNAACP has hit the ground running in less than two years since its chartering.
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