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 Georgia—the state that Peggy's great-great grandparents, William & Ellen Craft, famously escaped from enslavement nearly 115 years earlier...
W E E K L Y
W O R D
HAPPY JUNETEENTH & HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!
Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
Dr. Dorothy Cotton
That Juneteenth and Father's Day are on the same day this year is a reason to celebrate with joy, but to also honor the challenge of these two observances overlapping... With respect to Juneteenth, I have to thank my fellow Monticello descendants and the team at Monticello for the powerful and moving two-day Juneteenth event, Ascendant: The Power of Descendant Communities to Shape Our Stories, Places and Future. I also have to thank my cousin, Angela Niles—who like me is a descendant of Mary Hemings Bell, older sister of Sally Hemings—for accompanying me on my poem for the re-dedication of Monticello's sacred Burial Ground for Enslaved People. In addition, I must give heartfelt thanks to all of the moderators and panelists during Saturday's program, with a special shoutout to the exceptional Melody Barnes, who moderated my panel, Descendant Communities and the Arts, as well as, having much gratitude for my fellow panelists: the extraordinary Sarah Lewis, the legendary Wynton Marsalis and the incomparable Ava DuVernay. And of course, I'm grateful and blessed that my granddaughter, Kayelynn Craft Day-Lyons, was able to join me for this event. All of the panels are now viewable either on the Monticello website, Facebook page, YouTube account or by clicking on the screen adjacent to this column.
As to Father's Day, I wish all dads everywhere a Happy Father's Day, especially my husband, Earnie Preacely and my son, Christopher Day.
However, I also want to honor the challenge that having Juneteenth and Father's Day land on the same day poses—we must remember that enslaved fathers were not able to fully enjoy fatherhood. There are centuries of enslaved Black fathers who grappled with the horror of their children being born into enslavement, coupled with the anguish and fear of either themselves or their children being sold—which devastatingly happened with regularity. It is by God's grace that my great-great-grandparents, William and Ellen Craft escaped enslavement, and had five children born free... So, this is all to say, please celebrate Father's Day, but as you also commemorate Juneteenth, please keep in mind the millions of enslaved fathers who never had a chance to have their fatherhood honored, let alone preserved...