Remembering Jonathan Daniels
Today is the feast day for New Hampshire seminarian and civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels, one of only two American martyrs honored with a day on the Episcopal calendar (the other is Martin Luther King, Jr).
The chapel at Dartmouth's Edgerton Episcopal Campus Ministry is the country's only chapel dedicated to Daniels. I will write a more fitting and appropriate post about Daniels, the woman he saved, and our chapel tomorrow when I have access to my notes about the dedication service, but I wanted to be sure to recognize him on his actual feast day. Here is an excerpt from an e-mail our new campus minister sent out about this week's Wednesday night dinner:
Jonathan Daniels, a native of Keene, New Hampshire, began studying at the Episcopal Theological School in Massachusetts in 1963. In 1965, he heard the call of God and Martin Luther King to come to Selma, Alabama to join in a Civil Rights march. While he had only planned to spend the weekend in Alabama, he was so moved by the experience that he decided to commit himself fully to the Civil Rights Movement. Daniels returned to school proposing to stay in Selma for the remainder of the semester and promising to learn the course material on his own and come back for exams. Back in Selma, Daniels worked to integrate the Episcopal church, taking young African-Americans with him to the all-white church. That summer Daniels tutored children, helped those in need to find assistance, and promoted voter registration. In August Daniels joined other picketers in protesting businesses' refusal to serve blacks in Fort Deposit, and they were arrested and jailed. After being released, Daniels and three others tried to enter a local shop but were confronted by Tom Coleman, a deputy sheriff, who aimed his shotgun at Ruby Sales, a young black woman. Daniels pushed her out of the way, took the blast of the gun himself and was killed. The Episcopal Church celebrates Jonathan Daniels' life and work annually on August 14th and he is recognized in the Chapel of Modern Day Saints in Canterbury Cathedral.
Rev. Michael Dresbach has a far more touching and detailed account of Daniels' actions over at Padre Mickey's Dance Party. Do read.