Acclaimed activist-artist and speaker, Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely is a former Freedom Rider and working member of the historic Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (“SNCC”) that included among its founding members two civil rights legends—Rep. John Lewis, while a student protest leader in Nashville and Julian Bond, then a Morehouse College student—both of whom Peggy worked with during that history-changing time, along with other civil rights stalwarts. She also captured that experience with her essay "It was Simply in My Blood" in the acclaimed book, Hands on the Freedom Plow. In addition, her time, along with others, was visually captured by SNCC photographer Danny Lyon in the book, Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement (she is included on the cover, and the photo on this page is in the book).
Due to her grassroots activism for civil and voting rights, Ms. Preacely was jailed in Maryland and Georgia. She also worked in various communities across the Deep South in the ‘50s and ‘60s to facilitate community empowerment and register Black voters in under-served rural communities—many registering for the first time in their lives, let alone the first in their family to do so since the 15th Amendment passed in 1870 (and subsequently the 19th Amendment). She was also at the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, and precipitated the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Born in Pittsburgh and raised in Harlem, when Ms. Preacely returned to the North, she continued her activism by working against de facto segregated schools in Boston and protested The Vietnam War—a cause that Dr. King also took on…
Beyond her own involvement in history-making events, Ms. Preacely is the descendant of a historic multi-faceted family tree. Among her ancestors are: Mary Hemings Bell, the sister of Sally Hemings; famed abolitionists, Ellen & William Craft, who famously escaped enslavement through Mrs. Craft passing as the white male owner of Mr. Craft; and esteemed early civil rights activist, William Monroe Trotter, whose home is now a National Historic Landmark. Ms. Preacely also sits on the Monticello Getting Word Advisory Committee, comprised of descendants of those enslaved at Monticello.
Therefore, in addition to speaking about her experience as a SNCC member and Freedom Rider, Ms. Preacely conducts multi-media presentations on her historically-revered family tree. She further manifests her activism through art, performing her original poetry and spoken word inspired not only by her family’s background and her civil rights experience, but today’s youth that represent the future of this country and the world.
Ms. Preacely also served as an advocate and administrator in the public health sector for over 30 years in various programs, both for government agencies and non-profits. She’s lived in the Los Angeles metro-area since 1982, and attends the renowned and politically-progressive Holman United Methodist Church—one of a few churches in Los Angeles visited by Dr. King. Holman’s pastor emeritus is also civil disobedience/non-violence training icon, Rev. James Lawson—portrayed in the award-winning film, The Butler by another activist-artist, Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy. In 2015, Rev. Lawson—whom Ms. Preacely also worked with in the ‘60s—presented her with the SCLC-SC’s Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award (the SCLC is the only national organization founded by Dr. King).
On February 16, 2016 the accolades continued when Ms. Preacely and other extended family, attended a ceremony at Georgia’s prestigious Savannah College of Arts & Design (“SCAD”) to dedicate a permanent marker where her great-great grandparents, Ellen and William Craft had boarded a train under their daring ruse. In honor of the Crafts, SCAD has also produced a short documentary called, A Thousand Miles and Counting.
Ms. Preacely is available for speaking engagements, presentations and performances at the local, state, national and international levels for entities ranging from colleges to community organizations to conventions/conferences for associations/professional groups to churches to civil rights museum exhibitions. For inquiries and booking, regarding Ms. Preacely, please click here.
(photo credit: Danny Lyon. Also featured in his book, “Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement“)