Curious about Jonathan Daniel’s life as a child, teen, and adult, and the impact his work made on future generations? View our custom timeline below to learn more.
Jonathan Myrick Daniels Born
Jonathan Myrick Daniels is born on March 20, 1939 Marion Anderson sings at the Lincoln Memorial for an integrated crowd of 75,000 after being denied the right to sing in front of an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped make the event happen.
Philip Daniels becomes a medic in WWII
The family moves around the south for several years while Philip is in the service. The family returns to Keene when Philip goes to France. He is wounded in 1945. Tuskegee Airmen, the first African -American military aviators in the US Armed Forces formed from 1941-1948.
Sister Emily joins the family
Sister Emily is born in 1943 Legislation that will eventually become Title VI is begun by Adam Clayton Powell.
Both home and Dr. Daniels office. Jonathan and his friend Bob Perry had their secret hideout underneath. Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American to play major league baseball in the modern era 1947.
Love of pageantry
As a teenager, he attends New England Music Camp in Maine, and is a member of the Keene Children’s Theater, with sister Emily President Harry Truman became the first U.S. President to address the annual NAACP convention.
Injured in a fall from his roof after an early morning joy ride with a friend, he spends the next month in the hospital. 14 year old Emmitt Till is murdered in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a White woman. Montgomery bus boycott begins.
High School writing
Jon writes for the Enterprise, the Keene High School Literary magazine. Southern Christian Leadership Conference is formed (SCLC)
High school music and theater
Plays tuba in the school band and acts in school plays. The Nat King Cole Show premiered on television; the second African American to host a national television series.
Sang in church and school choirs
Sang in church and in the school choir. In June 1956, a federal court ruled that the laws in place to keep buses segregated were unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court eventually agreed. Rosa Parks started the boycott in Dec. 1955 that lead to this decision.
Graduates from Keene high school 1957
Graduates from Keene High School in 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower sent U.S. troops and nationalized the Arkansas Guard to protect nine black students trying to attend Little Rock, Arkansas’s Central High School
Joins the Episcopal church
Jonathan was confirmed as an Episcopalian at St. James Episcopal Church in 1957. Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington held at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate Brown v. Board of Education.
Attends Virginia Military Institute
Attends Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia in 1957 Youth Marches for integrated schools held in Washington DC.
Although personal touches were not allowed in VMI dorm rooms, Jon attached a glow-in-the-dark cross to the ceiling over his bed. He was also active in a number of clubs.
Dr. Daniels dies
Father, Dr. Philip Daniels, dies in 1959. Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by an African American woman on Broadway.
Sister Emily become ill and Jonathan works summers to help pay the family bills. Four Black college students in Greensborough, NC launch the lunch counter sit-in movement.
Valedictorian at VMI
Elected Valedictorian by his VMI classmates in 1961. Known as a “rat daddy” for his willingness to help freshmen (aka “rats”) The Albany Project (voter registration effort) begins in Albany, GA
Jonathan spent the summer of 1961 working in Washington, DC for the Senate Post Office CORE organized the first Freedom Ride to test the Supreme Court’s Boynton v. Virginia decision banning the segregation of bus terminal facilities.
Chooses Harvard for graduate study
VMI awards him the Woodrow Wilson and Danforth Fellowship prizes for graduate study. He is accepted at Harvard in 1961 for graduate study in Literature. The “Tougaloo Nine” are arrested for using a “White’s only” section of the Jackson, MS library.
Attends Easter Sunday Mass 1962 and has an epiphany Voter Education Project begins in the southern states.
A summer in Keene
Spends summer of 1962 in Keene working as an orderly at Elliot Hospital and as a bookkeeper at a local small business President Kennedy sends troops to MS to quell riots opposing the admission of Black student James Meridith at U Miss.
Episcopal Theological School
Asks St. James Church to sponsor him at Episcopal Theological School (ETS). 15 interracial Episcopal clergy arrested while on Prayer Pilgrimage to fight segregation in church related schools.
March on Washington
August 1963 Attends Martin Luther King, Jr. Walk on Washington for jobs and freedom. President Lyndon Johnson addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress to ask for the “earliest possible passage” of Kennedy’s civil rights bill.
Begins study at ETS
Starts at ETS Fall 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. writes his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in response to religious leaders who criticized his tactics.
Joins the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1963 NAACP Mississippi Field Secretary Medgar Evers assassinated in front of his house.
Friends in deed
Meets Judith Upham, one of the few female seminarians at ETS, and they become friends Alabama finally admits Black students to the University of Alabama.
Rhode Island Parish ministry
Works in a Providence Rhode Island parish as a youth counselor-part of his ETS training Four black girls attending Sunday school dies in a bombing of their church in Alabama.
Call to White Clergy
Hears Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to White clergy 1965 to support the efforts of Black church leaders. Executive Order 11246 authorized federal agencies to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Travels to Selma
Travels to Selma with other ETS students March 7, 1965 was “bloody Sunday” where civil rights marchers were beaten on the Edmund Pettis bridge in Selma, AL leading to the call from Martin Luther King, Jr.
The floor of MLK Jr. office
Spends first night in Alabama sleeping on the floor of MLK Jr. office Unitarian minister James Reeb of Boston killed as he left a Black owned restaurant.
The Scott family
Jonathan and Judy lived with the Scott family until they are threatened with eviction for hosting White northern civil rights workers The year before, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution ended the federal Poll tax and a 1966 Supreme Court decision ends it for states.
Joins ESCRU, the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity Formed in 1959, this unofficial church organization was formed to promote acceptance of racial inclusiveness.
The West family
Moves to the West family home in the middle of the night. Because they own their home, they are less likely to be evicted for hosting White civil rights workers Lonzy West worked to help register voters Alice West taught citizenship classes, which were necessary to pass voter registration tests
Mass at the local Episcopal Church in Alabama
Begins bringing Black children with him to Mass at the local Episcopal Church in Alabama They must wait until after all White people have taken communion before they are given communion.
Letters to the Bishop
With Judy Upham, as ESCRU reps, they write letters to the Bishop of the diocese regarding segregation in the Church Calling the segregation a “new expression of the old slave gallery”.
Boycotts of Whites-only stores and meets with local leaders to effect change
Participates in boycotts of Whites-only stores and meets with local leaders to effect change “Sometimes we confront the posse, and sometimes we hold a child.”
Return to ETS
Returns to ETS to finish semester Successfully passes exams at ETS but needs extensions to complete other work. Spends time in Keene and gives a sermon at St. James Church
ESCRU and SNCC
Returns to Selma July 1965 to work with ESCRU and SNCC Working with Eugene Pritchard, he develops a comprehensive guide to Dallas County social services.
The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
Joins SNCC-the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee- which formed in 1960 Meets Stokely Carmichael, Ruby Sales, Willy Vaughn and other Black activists and begins working with them.
Joins with the SNCC workers
Joins with SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) workers as they begin voting rights efforts in Lowndes County At that time, no Black person had tried to register to vote, or actually voted, in Lowndes County for over 30 years.
Teargassed while protesting
Jonathan is teargassed protesting for the right of Black citizens to register and vote in Camden AL He later wrote that with this experience he discovered a new “freedom” in the cross: freedom to love the enemy.
Dedicated himself to non-violence
He dedicated himself to non-violence in the model of Martin Luther King, Jr. He wrote: “We go in ‘active nonresistance,’ not to ‘confront,’ but to love and heal and to be free.”
A small, fast car
The bright red VW beetle drew too much attention, so he found a small, fast car through ESCRU He and other activists were routinely chased and some like Viola Luizzo, were killed.
Arrested in Fort Deposit, AL
Supports a boycotting segregated local stores and is arrested in Fort Deposit, AL Arrested, they all are jailed.
Moved to Hayneville, AL
After the initial arrest, the group is loaded into a trash truck and moved to Hayneville, AL Jon is eventually given a chance to leave, but opts to stay in solidarity with the group. The group often sang loudly as they knew everyone in the area could hear them.
A week in jail
While in jail, the arrested protesters sing songs, write letters and try to keep each other’s spirits up. Jonathan is offered a chance to have his bail posted, but refuses when he realizes not everyone will be released. They spend a week in the Hayneville jail with bad food and water.
Releasing the group of protestors
A petition is filed in federal court about the arrests. To avoid a federal case, the Attorney General recommends releasing the group of protestors. Unexpectedly let out of jail, no one is there to help the group.
A cold soda
Released from jail with no notice, Jon, Ruby Sales, Rev. Richard Morrisroe and Joyce Bailey walk to the Cash Store to buy a cold soda. They are met at the door by a local part-time deputy sheriff. He opens the door with a shotgun in hand.
Jonathan gets shot
The deputy aims his gun at Ruby Sales, who is in front. Jonathan pushes her out of the way and is shot and killed instead. Rev. Morrisroe is shot in the back as he and Joyce try to run away. Rev. Morrisroe spends 11 hours in surgery and many years recovering.
A family friend flies him home
It took the intervention of a Senator to find out which funeral home had his body. Eventually a family friend flies him home.
Funeral on August 24, 1965 was attended by almost 1000 people Stokely Carmichael, Ruby Sales, Alice West, and other members of SNCC drive up from Alabama President Johnson sends a telegram to Connie Daniels saying that he “grieved with her.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement
Martin Luther King, Jr. said of Jonathan pushing Ruby Sales out of harms way: “One of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry and career for civil rights was performed by Jonathan Daniels….”
Trial of the deputy sheriff
Trial of the deputy sheriff begins on Sept. 27, 1965 There are actually three related cases: White v. Crook, McMeans v. Mayor’s Court, Fort Deposit AL, and State of AL v. Thomas Coleman.
Killer is acquitted
After a week of trial, Jonathan’s killer is acquitted by an all white, all male jury. A columnist for the Atlanta Constitution observed that “press reports there was a trial this week in Hayneville, AL, but this was in error. No trial was held there within the accepted meaning of the word.”
White v. Crook
White V. Crook eventually leads to the Jury Selection Act of 1966, which is enacted by President Johnson. This opens jury selection to all citizens, including Black men and all women.
The Promaji Club (Black cadet student organization formed in 1972 at VMI) introduces the Jonathan Daniels Award in 1992. Alumni pictured here with Ruby Sales.
Jonathan Daniels ’61 Humanitarian Award
1997 VMI takes on and expands the Jonathan Daniels ’61 Humanitarian Award In addition, an arch is formally dedicated in the name of Jonathan Daniels. There is also a memorial courtyard at VMI
First Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian Award presented to Jimmy Carter
President Jimmy Carter is awarded the first JD Humanitarian Award in 2001 The award is given to Ambassador Andrew Young in 2006, Paul V. Hebert in 2011, John Lewis in 2015 and Carolyn Miles in 2019.
John Lewis honored with Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian award
Rep. John Lewis receives next JD Humanitarian Award in 2015. Rep. Lewis speech is available on YouTube. Rep. Lewis was one of those injured on the Edmund Pettis Bridge on the walk from Selma to Montgomery.
Feast day for martyr Jonathan Daniels
In 1994, the Episcopal Church designated August 14 as a feast day for martyr Jonathan Daniels. Pilgrimages and other events take place in his honor on this day every year. 1999 movie “Here Am I, Send Me, the Story of Jonathan Daniels” is produced 2004 Reston Chorale produces Chorale in his honor.
In Jonathan Daniels name
Various stained glass pieces, sculpture and plaques are erected in Jonathan Daniels name St. Patrick’s cathedral in Washington, D.C. Sewanee College St. John’s Memorial Chapel in Cambridge, MA Sculpture of Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemi, created by sculptor Walker Hancock, is donated by William Coolidge of Boston, MA. for the Abbey at Gethsemini in Kentucky.
Promaji club erects plaque in Hayneville, AL in 1997
Promaji club erects plaque in Hayneville, AL in 1997 Sponsored by philanthropist Cabell Brand
Human Rights Porch of the National Cathedral
2015 Sculpture added to the Human Rights Porch of the National Cathedral Designed by Chas Fagan and sculpted by stonemason Sean Callahan.
Canterbury Cathedral Book of Martyrs
Added to the Canterbury Cathedral (England) Book of Martyr’s 2015 Jonathan Daniels and Martin Luther King Jr. are the only American martyrs listed here.