Time Line: Events in the History of a Hero
1939 March 20: Born Jonathan Myrick Daniels, in Keene, NH. Parents: Connie and Dr. Philip Daniels.
1942: Dr. Daniels joins the war effort. As an Army Medical Corps captain, he takes his family to live in Arkansas, Kentucky and Washington, DC, before he ships out to Europe in 1944. Wounded shortly before the war ends, Dr. Daniels recovers to return to private practice in Keene, where he helps found the Keene Clinic. Dr. Daniel’s dedication to service profoundly affects his son.
1943: Jonathan’s sister Emily, his steadfast supporter, is born.
1953-1957: Jonathan’s high school years, during which his interest in music, reading, writing and drama develop. His athletic ability disappoints him but he finds inclusion in other high school activities.
1955 November: A midnight prank leads to a fall off a roof and injuries including a cracked elbow, hip, and pelvis, and a sprained foot. Jonathan is hospitalized for a month and emerges more serious and less rebellious.
1957 June: Graduates from Keene High School, 55th of approximately 200 students.
1957-1961: Student at Virginia Military Institute, where he is elected class valedictorian.
1959 December: Jonathan’s father, Dr. Daniels, dies from kidney problems at age 57.
1961: Attends Harvard University for graduate studies in English but leaves after first semester to help at home.
1962: Easter awakening: plans to become an Episcopal priest.
1963: Becomes “card-carrying member” of the NAACP.
1963: Student at Episcopal Theology School in Cambridge, MA. Does field work bringing the ministry to impoverished areas of Providence, RI. Jonathan calls this work “the most important of [his] life to date.”
1965 March 7-11: After the violent Selma March and so-called “Bloody Sunday,” Jonathan follows the call of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to go south. Finishes the seminary semester “correspondence-style.”
1965 June: Visits Keene and Cambridge at graduation time and then returns to Alabama despite protests of friends and family.
1965 March–August: During these spring and summer months, Jonathan, Judith Upham and others help integrate St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Selma. Jonathan lives with and counsels African-American citizens of the area and works with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) to register voters and to decry discrimination.
1965 August 6: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act, called the “single most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress,” guaranteeing all US citizens the right to vote.
1965 August 14: While accompanying a group of 30 African-Americans at voter registration, Jonathan is arrested in Fort Deposit, AL.
1965 August 20: Jonathan’s mother’s birthday. He writes a birthday card to her (which she receives two days after his death). Jonathan is released from jail in Hayneville, AL, under suspiciously casual circumstances. Moments later, while attempting to enter the “Cash Store” for a cold drink, Jonathan and others are confronted by special deputy sheriff Tom Coleman, who aims to shoot Ruby Sales, a teenage SNCC volunteer. Jonathan is shot protecting Ruby and dies instantly. Richard Morrisroe, a Catholic priest, also suffers severe and debilitating gunshot wounds.
1965 August 24: Jonathan is memorialized at a funeral at St. James Church in Keene. His burial, beside his father, follows at Monadnock View Cemetery in west Keene.
1965 October 31: Jonathan’s shooter, Tom Coleman, who pleaded innocent by reason of self-defense, is acquitted at a quick trial by an all-white jury.
1967: A book is published entitled The Jon Daniels Story, written by William J. Schneider.
1968: An elementary school is built on Maple Avenue in Keene, NH, and is named the Jonathan Daniels School.
1968: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated in Memphis, TN, and is buried in Atlanta, GA.
1980: Jonathan is one of only two 20th Century American martyrs listed in the Anglican Book of Martyrs in Canterbury Cathedral, England. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is the other recognized American martyr.
1991: Jonathan Daniels is named a lay saint to be celebrated annually (August 14) in the Episcopal Church’s Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts.
1993: The book Outside Agitator is written by University of Mississippi history professor Charles Eagles chronicling “Jon Daniels and the civil rights movement in Alabama.”
2001 March: Former US President Jimmy Carter is awarded the first Virginia Military Academy Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian Award.
2003: PBS airs the documentary Here Am I, Send Me: The Journey of Jonathan Daniels, a film produced by Keene filmmakers Lawrence Benaquist and William Sullivan. Interest in New Hampshire’s hero surges.
2004 March 19: World premiere of A Journey to Freedom, Honor & Glory: Celebrating Jonathan Daniels, Cantata by Julius Williams. Commissioned and performed by the Reston Chorale of Reston, VA, the event features segments of the film Here Am I, Send Me, The Journey of Jonathan Daniels.
2005: By proclamation of NH Governor John Lynch, August is officially Jonathan Myrick Daniels month in the state of NH.
2005 August 13 and 14: St. James Church Celebration of Jonathan’s life and work includes workshops, speakers and a two-mile memorial walk to Jonathan’s grave.
2005 September 25: Memorial Walk of Jonathan’s neighborhood, schools and churches begins at Heberton Hall/Keene Public Library and culminates with a program at St. James Church.
2005 October 16: A Journey to Freedom, Honor & Glory: Celebrating Jonathan Daniels grand multi-media event at The Colonial Theatre, Keene, NH. Hosted by distinguished performer/educator Rawn Spearman, this afternoon performance of the Cantata by Julius Williams is conducted by Keene State’s Carroll Lehman. A chorus of the region’s excellent voices combines with powerful live orchestral tribute. Features moving messages from poets and pals (including the Rev. Judith Upham, Ruby Sales and Richard Morrisroe) punctuated with excerpts from the acclaimed film, Here Am I, Send Me, The Journey of Jonathan Daniels. A joyful celebration of Jonathan Daniels, forty years after his life ended, his story continues .
2006 January 14: Sangmele in “Finding Our Common Ground” Concert at the UCC Church, Keene.
2008 March: The Martin Luther King, Jr. / Jonathan Daniels Committee organize the first Civil Rights Poster contest to recognize Jonathan Daniels' birthdate. The contest was repeated in 2009.
2009 January: The Martin Luther King Jr. / Jonathan Daniels Committee and the Support Group for Ethnic and Racial Diversity (SERD) at Antioch University New England organize the first Keene Day of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to recognize the work of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Jonathan Daniels.