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Freedom Rider and early civil rights activist to give talk at UGA

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely

An early veteran of the civil rights movement is scheduled to make a presentation next week at the University of Georgia.

As a student, Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, was one of the Freedom Riders who risked their lives by riding interstate buses into the segregated southern states in 1961 and subsequent years to challenge the non-enforcement of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that segregated public buses were unconstitutional.

The Southern states had ignored the rulings and the federal government did nothing to enforce them. Three civil rights workers who were also Freedom Riders were murdered after they drove from New York to Mississippi to help blacks register to vote.

Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely (r) with a fellow Freedom Rider in 1961

Raised in Harlem, N.Y., Preacely marched alongside such civil rights icons as Julian Bond and John Lewis.

She also participated in the March on Washington to hear Dr. Martin Luther

King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Throughout the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, Maryland, and other southern states, Preacely registered voters in rural communities as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

SNCC's newspaper reports on the butning of Mount Olive Baptist Church, one of two black churces that were destroyed in Sasser, Ga.

In the North, she worked to desegregate schools in Boston. She is the great-great-granddaughter of William and Ellen Craft, fugitive slaves and transatlantic activists from Macon, Georgia; a descendant of the Sally Hemings family; and a great niece to William Monroe Trotter, the founder of Boston’s Guardian, an important early black newspaper of the Civil Rights Movement.

Preacely has published original poetry about her civil rights experiences and is composing a collection of short stories about her formative years in Harlem. Her Nov. 12 talk at UGA will focus on the intersection of literature with civil rights and social justice activism. It’s scheduled to last from 5 to 7 p.m. The presentation is being sponsored by UGA’s English Department's Leighton M. Ballew Lecture Series, the Institute for African American Studies, and Cindy Hahamovitch, UGA’s R. Phinizy Spalding Professor of Southern History.

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