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

12.21.20

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Dr. Dorothy Cotton

I am posting today for a couple of special reasons.  The first is that December 21, 2020 is not only my granddaughter, Kaylynn's 21st birthday, but it is also Winter Solstice—the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere—AND this year's Winter Solstice also marks the Great Conjunction, when Saturn and Jupiter align every 20 years.  In addition, today is the closest they will be to each other since 1623, and the most observable since 1226 (since it is occurring at night).   While that indicates what is special astronomically today, it is also very special to me and my maternal side of the family, because today marks the day my famed abolitionist great-great-grandparents, William and Ellen Craft, began their midnight escape from enslavement in Georgia.  Yes, that would mean that they literally escaped during the holiday season.  And no, the symbolism is not lost on me... I will have another post this Saturday to commemorate their first day of freedom on December 26, 1848.  But in the meantime, here is a poem I wrote as a young woman about the initial days of their escape—with biracial Ellen disguised as William's "white male" slaveholder for their cover—and it is entitled, Pas de Deux:  Leaving 1848...

P A S  de  D E U X:   L E A V I N G   1 8 4 8

by Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

Cold trees, white wind, darkness.

The Moon’s eye a wandering spotlight on their paths.

 

She hulked her shoulders,

made them broader under the makeshift jacket...

stumbled in the too large men’s shoes

caught her balance

kept walking...

remembered her pledge

And headed to the train station.

 

She was his “herand  his “his”.

A daring duality...

wearing disguise as destiny.

And he was “her’s”.

They were their own “theirs

Solely their own.

No other comrade or accompaniment.

No chorus from the railroad.

The night music just for them:

Singing...

Freedom is...

 

Run!

be brave...

be bold...

hold on...

hold up...

hold fast...

go forth...

go north...

go now!

 

A solo

pas de deux...

their theatre on the run.

 

Ellen and William had left singly...

But they fled––

TOGETHER.

© 2020 Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely. All rights reserved.