Keene native Jonathan Daniels was a 26-year-old seminary student in 1965 when he responded to Dr. King's call for clergy of all faiths to come to Selma, Alabama to support the voting rights marchers. He stayed after the march to work on the integration of churches and voting rights. Stokely Carmichael said, "He had an abundance of strength that comes from the inside that he could give to people. The people of Lowndes County realized that with the strength they got from Jon Daniels they had to carry on, they had to carry on."
Jonathan was one of 30 jailed for picketing white stores in Fort Deposit, Alabama. Upon leaving jail in Haynesville a week later, Daniels, Father Morrisroe, and two African American teens attempted to enter a nearby grocery store to buy a soda. Tom Coleman, a part-time deputy, emerged from the store with a shotgun and threatened the group. Jon pushed the teenagers out of the way and the gun went off. Morrisroe was critically injured; Jon was killed instantly.
Claiming Daniels pulled a knife, Colemen persuaded the grand jury to reduce the indictment from murder to manslaughter. After less than two hours of deliberation, an all-white jury acquitted Coleman.
Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of Daniels, "Jonathan certainly had a promising life and it is still a tragedy that it was cut so short by this brutal and bestial death that few people in our time will know such fulfillment or meaning though they live to be a hundred."
More information is available:
The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice - Jonathan Daniels on the Archives of the Episcopal Church Website
Civil Rights Movement: Jonathan Daniels in Alabama, Spring, 1965 on the Virginia Military Institute Archives Website
Jonathan Daniels Civil Rights Hero on the Virginia Military Institute Archives Website.