BY Carol Ahlum
I met Ed Peeples in the summer of 1966 when I participated in the Encampment in Barbourville, Kentucky. I was 16 years old. At that time, I had no idea that this EFC was the first to be held in the South. In 1966, Ed was the director of this Encampment. I knew him as the guy who gave orders (even though we as Encampers made our own rules) and the guy who had a wife and two small children who lived on campus near the Encampment dorm.
1966 Kentucky workshop group: Bottom row, from left, Carol Ahlum, Missy Greer; center, Phoebe Dupey. Back row, second from left, Jack Morgan with Irwin Rubin to his right. Right end is staff, Ray Stubbs.
When I reconnected with the Encampment about four years ago, I learned about Ed’s autobiography, Scalawag. (In it, he describes how white supremacists besieged our 1966 Encampment.)
Ed Peeples (center on ground) with the 1966 Kentucky staff. Read more in Scalawag!
After reading Scalawag, I called him and we had a long conversation about our lives, about growing up White in a segregated society. I had grown up in rural Pennsylvania north of Philadelphia; Ed in Richmond, Virginia. We also connected over our involvement with Friends (Quakers). I talked about being a member of the local Friends Meeting. He sent his oldest daughter to the same Quaker camp in Frederick County, Maryland, to which my husband and I sent our daughters. He also worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Prince Edward County, Virginia, when that county closed all its public schools in the 1950s rather than desegregate. We spoke of his work with the new R.R. Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia, in a historic “colored” public school building that tells the story of this horrific period in Virginia’s history.
I encouraged and helped Ed to add his name and his autobiography to the listing of civil rights activists in the internet archive of Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
After reconnecting with Ed, I participated in two EFC InterGen weekends, including last summer (2018) near Jackson, Mississippi.
Left to right, at the 2018 InterGen, Raymond, MS: Anne Klaeysen, EFC board member; Carol Ahlum; Tracy Gary, development team, Jane Sapp (Education Director) and Hubert Sapp (former Board member).
On the way back to Maryland, I visited Ed in Richmond, Virginia. In spite of his mobility and health issues, he spoke passionately about local and national issues, such as removing Confederate monuments. He also described lovingly the activities of his four daughters and wife. And he spoke of his joy that the Encampment continues.
Ed (far right) at the 2013 Encampment, Richmond, VA.
Do you have a memory of Ed you would like to share? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.