To the Editor:
With the issues recently printed in the Cumberland Times-News about our organization, Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, we would like to set the record straight.
As we have seen in the past certain members of our society thrive on untrue gossip about the CHCO. We would like to address Valerie Lashley of the NAACP Allegany County (“Thanks for withdrawing CHCO legislation,: Feb. 27 Times-News). We feel Ms. Lashley needs to be educated about the CHCO.
First, pertaining to a small share of the marriage license fee that could possibly go to the CHCO; there are several other organizations that already receive funds from the marriage license: Family Junction, Family Crisis Resource Center, and the Allegany County Historical Society which is incorporated as a historical organization such as we are.
The difference is all three of these organizations while being non profit have people on the payroll. The CHCO does not; we are all volunteers.
Ms. Lashley accuses us of having political activities relating to abortion. Fact, in 2004 we built Maryland’s largest monument as a grave stone to all aborted children. Whether you are for or against abortion the fact remains the dead children needed a grave stone and most of the deaths from abortions are black babies.
Ms. Lashley is concerned about us supporting religious symbols at government buildings. Fact, guilty as charged and proud of it. We are the only organization in United States history to get our Ten Commandments monument back and replaced in front of the court house after being removed in 2004.
Ms. Lashley accuses “a need to uphold Judeo–Christian or western values.” Fact, yes we do. The U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence along with all 50 states’ constitutions are based upon these values.
Ms. Lashley accuses us of having a link on our web site to a “Neo-Confederate hate group”. This is a downright lie.
The CHCO recommends Ms. Lashley and her local group take a look at the real history of the CHCO. Since 1983 we have erected over 800 historical monuments of all types and have adopted and become affiliated with 11 local cemeteries. In 1990 with the great support of the black community the CHCO adopted and restored Sumner Cemetery located on Yale Street, Cumberland, Allegany County’s first all-black cemetery.
In our 31-year history we have spent more money to restore Sumner Cemetery than any other site. In 1990 the cemetery was covered beneath 10 feet of weeds.
In 1991 with 80 percent of CHCO funding we built Maryland’s first monument to black Union Civil War soldiers. This is a true landmark for Cumberland.
Each year on Memorial Day weekend the CHCO holds their annual Memorial Day service at this site. The Rev. Alfred Deas of Metropolitan AME church has attended many of these events.
Over the years the CHCO has erected over a dozen Civil War monuments to both Union and Confederate troops buried in Allegany County. We are very offended that the NAACP would feel a need to attack our organization. The CHCO has done more than any other organization in Allegany County to promote black history.
The CHCO has and will continue to build and restore monuments to all great Americans throughout our 200 plus year history. Our monuments will stand the test of time. It is our goal and mission to build as many monuments as possible so future generations can know how great our country once was.
The Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization Inc. 2014 board of directors
Edward W. Taylor, Jr., Melvin Collins, Linda Burgess, Christina Taylor, Debby Clark, Chester (Dale) Burgess, Sr., Mary Anne Eckard, Father Alister Anderson