A stop at a lunch counter. A thousand arms linked at the elbows. A firing line of water hoses. A pack of German Shepherds. A letter from a Birmingham jail. A world that would never be the same. The year was 1963, and as the world watched, events in Birmingham sparked an unstoppable surge toward equal rights for people of all races. As Alabama marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, you can be there to remember some of its martyrs, including former Episcopal Theological School seminarian Jonathan Daniels.
Starting in 1999, the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama and other partners including the Commission on Race Relations and the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast have sponsored an annual pilgrimage to honor the lives of Jonathan Daniels and the twelve civil rights martyrs of Alabama. This year, Lifelong Learning at EDS is organizing a three day pilgrimage to join them, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the struggle that changed our nation.
The EDS pilgrimage starts on Friday, August 9, in Atlanta, Georgia, where participants will be received by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and will visit the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr., and the National Historic Site dedicated to his memory. Bishop Rob Wright, the first African-American Bishop in the history of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, will be leading the Atlanta contingent. On Saturday, participants will take the four hour bus journey to Hayneville, Alabama, to join other pilgrims for the Jonathan Myrick Daniels and All Martyrs Annual Pilgrimage.
The day’s events begin in Courthouse Square with a procession to the old county jail where Daniels and Ruby Sales were detained for a week along with twenty-two other people who participated in a voter rights demonstration in Fort Deposit, Alabama. The procession then moves to the old Cash Grocery Store where Daniels died on August 20, 1965 shielding the sixteen-year old Sales. The pilgrimage concludes in the Courthouse where the man who killed Daniels was tried and acquitted. A service of Holy Communion takes place in the courtroom. EDS pilgrims will then either stay overnight with local hosts or journey back to Atlanta along the Civil Rights Trail.
Were you a classmate or colleague of Jonathan Daniels? If so, EDS wants to hear from you! Send your memories of or reflections on Daniels's life and work to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to Christianne Humphrey, Director of Alumni/ae and Constituent Engagement, Episcopal Divinity School, 99 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138