This image is of Peggy (R), then a 19 year-old SNCC member, next to future civil rights icon, Dr. Dorothy Cotton (L), after a 1962 church burning in Georgiathe state that Peggy's great-great grandparents, William & Ellen Craft, famously escaped from slavery nearly 115 years earlier...

MY

W E E K L Y 

W O R D

COMMEMORATING MLK DAY

1.17.22

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Dr. Dorothy Cotton

As we commemorate MLK Day, I wanted to share my experience with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. back in the early ‘60s…  In those early days of the Movement in 1962, we in SNCC knew Dr. King well, not only as a civil rights leader, but co-founder/head of SCLC.

 

He met with us often, without the press, as our organizations strategized and responded to various situations that required his and/or our response. With respect to the SCLC, he represented what seemed to us—most 25 and under—a much older generation of the freedom struggle. We discussed and did not always agree, but there was always mutual respect and mutual determination to combat the mutual fear of where racism’s oppression and yes, domestic terrorism, was taking our country.

 

I was only 19 that summer in the Albany Freedom Movement, (perceived as a lesson learned by all on what not to do). He was only 33, but he always seemed much older to us at the time…and of course, he had that presence, that voice, that willingness—like us—to put his life on the line, and even put his status aside, as I remember when he brought us toothbrushes to the Albany City Jail, after we had been arrested.

 

On this day, I remember Dr. King as a fellow warrior for justice, a mentor, and much, much more than the closing words of his “I Have a Dream” speech, as noted today by writer, Michael Harriot.

 

In honor of Dr. King and his interactions with us in SNCC, my poem is entitled, Without Reservation.

​​by Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Our struggle was ageless

We were of all ages

Jail knew no difference

Arrest was a badge of courage.

We had no reservation

About what we knew

we had to do.

Oh, yes, you could stand next to him

This man, Martin King,

Or you could just stand up tall

All by yourself

Because it was not only him

Or because of him

But it was The Movement!

It was each one of us

It was all the people

Not just one

That without reservation we

Sat-in

Walked-in

Marched-in

Rode-in

Sang-in

Stood-in

Prayed-in

Insisted on

Being served our rights.

No reservation needed

There was no hesitation…

Once we had made up our minds.

"WITHOUT RESERVATION"

© 2022 Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely. All rights reserved.