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 slavery nearly 115 years earlier...
Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
Dr. Dorothy Cotton
The memorial service on Thursday for my SNCC compatriot and friend, John Lewis was outstanding—from Rev. Bernice King's prayer to President Obama's voting call to action to Nancy Pelosi's recall of John's rainbow manifestation to moving reflections by John's family, staff and friends to the singing by Jenifer Holiday, BeBe & Marvin Winans to former Atlanta mayor, Bill Campbell's quote of the day..."John wasn't on the right side of history. History was on the right side of John Lewis..."—but, oh, the words from my Holman Methodist Church pastor emeritus and SNCC legend, Rev. James Lawson rocked the church, the country...the world, as did John's New York Times last request to all of us... Therefore, in honor of John and Rev. Lawson, here is a poem I'd been inspired to write by yet another rousing sermon by Rev. Lawson in 2016...
A GATHERING CALL
by Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely
We must insist upon a spirit- filled gathering
and call ourselves out of this wilderness!
A strengthening is needed..
must not go unheeded.
amidst this chaos of community.
We cannot yield to the fears
or allow the tears
to pull us down.... or out.
We must not cease our fierce loving,
cannot allow the brutal awakening across our land
to dissuade us,
Rather they must persuade us
not to detour from our true compass
But to form us into a circle of love
with justice at its center.
We hear an ancestral calling ...where neighborhood is sacred space:
a place to lean one upon another
to dance in what is our true Christ center:
service, faith, discernment, compassion, community, social justice.
In these times we must widen and redefine our circle
to insist on each other’s embrace
despite all the terror and disgrace.
It is a slow persistent curving
towards a rhythm of belonging
a radical and encompassing loving.
in this our human neighborhood...
our inheritance of place.
We must become this river of possibility
moving with communal compassion
with our emphasis on God's true grace.
© 2020 Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely. All rights reserved.