You are here: American University College of Arts & Sciences American University Museum 2022 The Bridge that Carried Us Over

The Bridge that Carried Us Over

Presented by the AU Museum Project Space
June 11–August 7, 2022

Finale and Panel Discussion
August 6, 12–3 p.m. ET
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Macedonia Baptist Church, 5119 River Road, Bethesda, Maryland, November 29, 2019. Photo by Gail Rebhan.

Macedonia Baptist Church, 5119 River Road, Bethesda, Maryland, November 29, 2019. Photo by Gail Rebhan.

In summer 2020 deep excavation began for a self-storage unit on the site of the River Road Burial Grounds and Community. On July 27, 2020, more than forty dump trucks hauled away soil from the site.

From River Road African/African American Burial Grounds 2020. Photocollage by Gail Rebhan.

Cabin on the Solyom Estate occupied by Botts family members, July 1895. Photo courtesy of Ralph Wooden.

Cabin on the Solyom Estate occupied by Botts family members, July 1895. Photo courtesy of Ralph Wooden.

The Bridge that Carried Us Over explores the mechanisms by which the transfer of intergenerational wealth, land, and historical memory have been denied to the African diaspora in the United States. It offers an in-depth look at the historic Black River Road community, which thrived two miles from the American University Museum from emancipation through its violent displacement in the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition combines archival images and research—on neighborhood slaveholding estates, the free River Road community, and the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition’s ongoing struggle to protect the community’s desecrated burial ground—with community heirlooms, firsthand oral histories, and funerary objects rescued from the Moses African Cemetery. In presenting the community’s rich history in juxtaposition with the powerful forces trying to erase it over the course of centuries, the exhibition aims to elucidate one instance of the systemic structural denial of communal wealth (in all its forms) to Black people in the United States, and to provide concrete, place-based and community-led proposals for reparations.