It was as hot as any other Alabama day in August; the heat weighed down on us as it has on centuries of people who have walked the roads of our small towns. The shade we found from time to time was a welcome, though fleeting, respite from the heat. The teenagers walking with us had never been on a pilgrimage before, and though the sun was relentless, I heard no complaining-none of the usual fussing from them. We were walking in remembrance of Jonathan Myrick Daniels and the other Civil Rights Martyrs of Alabama. They listened as we went from the courthouse to the site of Varner’s Cash Store, where Daniels and Father Richard Morrisroe were shot.
Their attention drifted once we returned to the courthouse for Eucharist; even the preaching of then Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry didn’t hold them entirely. But as we drove back along the winding country roads toward Dothan, some of our teenagers remarked, “I never knew about that.” “It’s weird to actually be in the place where something like that happened.” The story of Jonathan Daniels and the martyrs of Alabama is our story. It is a part of our history: ugly and cruel at times, but also full of grace and rich with lessons to learn.
On August 13th 2016 at 11:00AM at the Courthouse in Hayneville, AL, the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will once again join the Diocese of Alabama in the annual observance of Jonathan Myrick Daniels and the Civil Rights Martyrs of Alabama. The Commission on Peace and Justice and Racial Reconciliation invites you to join with us in remembering the Civil Rights struggle in Alabama, and more importantly to join with us as we seek to look back so that we can build a better future for our children. For more details, please contact The Rev. Peter Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.