Each August, the Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage takes place in Hayneville, AL, in remembrance of Episcopal Church martyr Jonathan Myrick Daniels. One of the most recognized pilgrimages in The Episcopal Church, people from many dioceses and seminaries across the country come to the spot where Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian from Keene, New Hampshire, was shot to death in August 1965 trying to protect an African-American teenage girl.
This year, a group of 13 students, faculty, and alumni from Southwest participated in the pilgrimage.
“The entire pilgrimage was about remembrance and re-commitment,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeehei Park, Assistant Professor of New Testament, and one of the faculty members who made the pilgrimage. “We remembered many who namelessly lost their lives to racially motivated violence and many who selflessly dedicated their lives to holy resistance. We recommitted ourselves to the work of standing up against racial injustice and inequality. Every step on the pilgrimage was a transformative experience that left us with a lot to process at multiple levels and a lot to do in various contexts. I’m grateful to my fellow pilgrims for their courageous participation and to the SSW community for their support.”
The Pilgrimage begins each year in front of the courthouse in Hayneville, AL, the place where an all-white jury in less than an hour found Jonathan’s murderer, Tom Coleman, not guilty. Pilgrims march to the jail where Daniels and his companions were held, to the place where he was killed at a small country store that has since been razed, and then back to the courthouse.
The Southwest contingent included an even broader walking reflection on the purpose of the pilgrimage. “Our pilgrimage began at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four Black teenage girls were killed by the bombing in 1963,” said Park. “It continued in Montgomery. We visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Dr. Richard Harris Museum, which was the headquarters for the Freedom Riders, and the Legacy Museum. In Hayneville, we marched with many Episcopalians who came from all over the country to remember the death of Jonathan Daniels. We drove to Selma and walked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge where we met an old local man, who was a foot soldier on Bloody Sunday.”
To learn more about the Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage, visit the diocese of Alabama website at https://dioala.org/jonathandaniels.