Magazine article The Christian Century

Jonathan Myrick Daniels

Magazine article The Christian Century

Jonathan Myrick Daniels

Article excerpt

Jonathan Myrick Daniels was 26 when he stepped in front of a shotgun blast meant for a fellow civil rights worker, Ruby Sales, 50 years ago in Hayneville, Alabama.

That act, and Daniels's summer of activism in Alabama, led the Episcopal Church to recognize him as a saint in 1991. An annual pilgrimage to Lowndes County is held in his honor.

Soon an eight-inch-high limestone carving of Daniels will be ready for viewing at the Human Rights Porch at the Washington National Cathedral, putting Daniels in the company of Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks.

Daniels was chosen in part because of his relative obscurity. "It was a deliberate choice to find somebody within our own ranks that we could lift up and memorialize," said Kevin Eckstrom, National Cathedral spokesman.

Daniels, originally from New Hampshire, was a student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he and several of his classmates answered Martin Luther King Jr.'s call for clergy to help finish the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama in 1965, two days after state troopers beat marchers in what became known as Bloody Sunday.

Daniels stayed for most of the summer, living with the family of Alice and Lonzy West (two of the family's children appear in the photo above). He was with a group of activists arrested for protesting whites-only policies at stores. After a week in jail, on August 20, 1965, he and the others were released. They walked to a nearby store, where an armed segregationist, Tom Coleman, confronted them. Daniels moved Sales out of the way, and Coleman shot him. …

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