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Remembering a Civil Rights Martyr

August 16, 2010

Two Episcopal priests who blog under the moniker “Dirty Sexy Ministry” have written a post reflecting on a pilgrimage they made to mark the day and experience the place when and where a young civil rights protester named Jonathan Myrick Daniels was killed 45 years ago. I’m not sure I’m all that thrilled by their blog’s “catchy” name (see the previous post below for more on all that), but they write beautifully and their whole account is worth reading. Here’s an excerpt:

We march to the jail and pray. Some ladies have put wreaths of flowers on the razor wire fence. The jail is stark, as jails usually are. But delicate yellow and white flowers decorate the door where Jonathan walked through to his cell. We read the lesson from Galatians, the one that includes the oft-overlooked part of Paul’s writings: There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Inclusion at its finest and clearest. We stand in the profound silence of these words, then pray some more.

We are, after all, mostly Episcopalians, so we pray lots. We like to write our prayers or simply use the ones written hundreds and even thousands of years ago. We say amen, then look around for the cross, which leads us from one station to another. When in doubt, follow the cross. Good literal and spiritual advice I learned in seminary but still struggle to practice.

Jeremy, a priest friend, spots the gold standard and motions to the cross heading down a curved asphalt road blocked by police cars, so we march again, singing this time. We shall overcome. We shall overcome. We shall overcome the heat and the insanity of racism. We shall even overcome our inability to sing together. We shall overcome our own egos and attitudes.

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