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

V O T I N G   R I G H T S

1.23.22

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Dr. Dorothy Cotton

I am still reeling from last week's horrible defeat by the GOP Senators (no thanks to help from Manchin and Sinema) of the filibuster rules change to help pass the already House-passed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Senate's Freedom To Vote Act (which pulled portions from the House's For The People Act). That Senate vote brought back a torrent of devastating memories for me, having been on the Deep South frontlines as a SNCC member in the 1960s promoting civil/voting rights, let alone remembering those who were killed in that effort.  

Therefore, this week I've decided to take a poem I'd originally written to celebrate voting rights on the 58th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Though the 1965 Voting Rights Act passed two years later after Selma's Bloody Sunday, voting rights was still a key demand we made at the March on Washington (yes, I was there), which also set in motion the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The poem is entitled, The Vote Derailed.

 

And while my heart is heavy and I am angry that our hard won struggle is under active attack again by GOP Senators and Congressmembers (enabled by two U.S. Senate Democrats), they have another thing coming if they think the fight is over, they would be wrong.  And this poem is a clarion call for all who believe in democracy to fight for it in 2022 as the midterms loom ahead, or we will assuredly lose our democracy...except this time, it's likely forever if we do nothing.... 

 

​​by Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

"THE VOTE DERAILED"

There it was

The John Lewis Voting Rights Act

The right to vote

To be heard

To be safe

To participate

That ancient call to reach forth

To stretch against the tide...

 

We called on the ancestors

Rode the wings of promises

Knocked on the doors

Organized the people

Spurned the fears

Rode the rails

Beat the drums

Carried one another

Dodged the bullets

Outlasted the hatred

Outran the dogs

Resisted the lies

Wrote the Senators

Checked the boxes

Lifted a hand

Pulled  the lever

Mailed the ballot

Braved the cold

Sweated the heat

Stood in line

Talked the talk

Walked the walk...

We now stand

On our hallowed ground

Aghast!

Still in a battle

Which should

At the least,

And at last,

Have seen a victory.

© 2022 Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely. All rights reserved.