Remembering a Civil Rights Martyr

Join us on Wednesday, August 7, at noon in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library to hear Alabama author Marianne Weber discuss the dramatic story of civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels.

Jonathan Daniels
On August 20, 1965, Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Daniels was released from jail in the small Lowndes County, Alabama, town of Fort Deposit. Daniels and 29 other civil rights activists had spent a week behind bars for picketing white-owned businesses. Hoping to buy some cold drinks, Daniels and three other activists walked to a store, but the white store owner, Tom Coleman, appeared in the doorway and ordered them away at gunpoint. Moments later Coleman fired. Daniels pushed his companion, 17-year-old Ruby Sales to the ground, saving her life, and took the full blast from Coleman’s shot gun in his chest. Daniels died instantly, and Coleman fired again, wounding another activist. Coleman was acquitted of murder by an all-white jury, but Daniels’ death inspired many of his fellow Episcopalians to join the struggle for equal rights. Today, Jonathan Daniels is remembered as a martyr by the Episcopal Church and people of all faiths remember his sacrifice with a pilgrimage to Lowndes County each August.

Weber will explore the life and legacy of Jonathan Daniels.

Marianne Weber
Marianne M. Weber is a freelance writer, social worker, and author of Truman Capote’s Southern Years (University of Alabama Press). She lectures on Capote’s and Harper Lee’s Monroeville, Alabama. She is a book reviewer for First Draft, the Montgomery Advertiser, and others. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and is a former board member of Alabama Writers’ Forum and Writing Today. Her deep interest in social justice led her to research and write about Alabama’s rich civil rights history.

To learn more about Jonathan Daniels, check out historian Charles W. Eagles’ award-winning book Outside Agitator: Jon Daniels and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama or visit the Encyclopedia of Alabama online at

Jim Baggett
Archives Department
Central Library