Who is the Blessed Jonathan Myrick Daniels? Have you ever heard of him? Well, if you're an Episcopalian you have, because his Feast Day, August 14, just passed. He's a major hero of the civil rights movement, and he's...white.
He grew up in New Hampshire, the son of a physician, and served in the military before going on to Seminary, at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a zeal for Anglicanism and the civil rights of all persons.
Then, things took a turn. He found himself in a position to become a martyr, one of the the handfull of martyrs and "contemporary saints" of the Episcopal Church...
...over the fold...
Let's see what Wikipedia says about our Saint:
In March 1965, Daniels answered the call of Dr. Martin Luther King, who asked that students and clergy come to Selma, Alabama, to take part in a march to the state capital in Montgomery. Daniels and several other seminary students left for Alabama on Thursday, and had intended to only stay the weekend, but Daniels and friend Judith Upham missed the bus home. Forced to stay a little longer, Daniels and Upham realized how badly it must appear to the native civil rights workers that they were only willing to stay a few days. Convinced they should stay longer, the two went back to school just long enough to request permission to spend the rest of the semester in Selma, studying on their own and returning at the end of the term to take exams. Daniels stayed with a local African-American family, the West family. During the next months, Daniels devoted himself to integrating the local Episcopal church, taking groups of young African-Americans to the church, where they were usually scowled at or ignored. In May, Daniels traveled back to school to take his semester exams, and having passed, he came back to Alabama in July to continue his work. Among his other work, Daniels helped assemble a list of federal, state, and local agencies that could provide assistance to those in need. He also tutored children, helped poor locals apply for aid, and worked to register voters.And he did that. He went down to Selma. He believed, as contemporary Episcopalians do, in freedom and self-determination.
I'm going to let Wikipedia continue, because it's perfectly written--better than I could do--and an open source:
On August 14, 1965, Daniels, in a group of 29 protesters, went to picket whites-only stores in the small town of Fort Deposit, Alabama. All of the protesters were arrested and taken to jail in the nearby town of Hayneville. Five juvenile protesters were released the next day. The rest of the group were held for six days; they refused to accept bail unless everyone was bailed. Finally, on August 20, the prisoners were released without transport back to Fort Deposit. After release, the group waited by a road near the jail. Daniels with three others—a white Catholic priest and two female black protesters—went down the street to get a cold soft drink at Varner's Cash Store, one of the few local stores that would serve nonwhites. They were met at the front by Tom L. Coleman, an engineer for the state highway department and unpaid special deputy, who wielded a shotgun. The man threatened the group, and finally leveled his gun at seventeen-year-old Ruby Sales. Daniels pushed Sales down to the ground and caught the full blast of the gun. He was killed instantly. The priest, Richard F. Morrisroe, grabbed Joyce Bailey, the other protester, and ran. Coleman shot Morrisroe, wounding him in the lower back. Coleman was subsequently acquitted of manslaughter charges by an all-white jury. Richmond Flowers, Sr., the then Attorney General of Alabama, described the verdict as representing the "democratic process going down the drain of irrationality, bigotry and improper law enforcement."  Coleman died at age 86 on June 13, 1997 without having faced any further prosecution. The Blessed Jonathan Myrick Daniels took a bullet meant for a young black girl. He did it willingly, no, bravely. The man who made him a martyr was let off. At the time, I suppose that was not unusual.
But what happened to that young black girl he saved? Her name is Ruby Sales, and this is what she's up to: The Spirit House Project. She went to EDS herself to honor the man who saved her life.
I weep when I tell this story. But it says a lot about the moral compass of the Episcopal Church in making Daniels a saint. My family is racially integrated, and I'm gay. We have a vested interest in the civil rights of everyone. I don't know that I'd have the courage of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, but I'd like to think that I would do what he did.
That "Dream"? It's all of ours.