Jonathan Daniels was a seminarian at Episcopal Divinity School in New York City when he learned of Dr. Martin Luther King’s call for for northern volunteers to march to Selma, Alabama in 1965. Then, he asked himself, “Can I spare the time: Do I want to spare the time? Do I want to go?” Reluctantly he concluded that the idea was impractical.But that evening, Jon changed his mind — and he went to Alabama. His last act was to shove a black teenager out of the path of the bullet intended for her. As a civil rights worker he was shot and killed in August 1965.
Before he was killed, Jon explained his calling to go to Alabama: “I had come to Evening Prayer as usual that evening, and as usual I was singing the Magnificat with the special love and reverence I have always felt for Mary’s glad song. ‘He hath showed strength with his arm….’ As the lovely hymn of the God-bearer continued, I found myself peculiarly alert, suddenly straining toward the decisive, luminous, Spirit-filled ‘moment’ that would, in retrospect, remind me of others – particularly one at Easter three years ago. Then it came. ‘He….hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things…’
I knew then that I must go to Selma.”
O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.