March 22 Service for Jonathan Daniels with Civil Rights Program by Gradeschoolers

Students from Jonathan Daniels School in Keene, NH, will present a civil rights program at St. James Episcopal Church’s 10 a.m. service on Sunday, March 22, 2015, which is the closest Sunday to Jonathan Daniels’ March 20th birth. This year, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of Jonathan Daniels’ assassination at the hands of a deputy sheriff in the small Alabama town of Hayneville on August 20, 1965.  Daniels was in Alabama working with other civil rights activists to register African American voters.

The students’ commemorative event honors civil rights activists, including Jonathan Daniels, who participated in the 1963 March on Washington, D.C., a famous gathering that attracted 250,000 to 300,000 peaceful demonstrators to the Mall. One of the lasting legacies of this iconic event in American history is Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous I Have a Dream Speech .The objective of the march was to draw attention to the lack of freedom and opportunities for African Americans. The students will present brief biographies of civil rights activists Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, The Greensboro Four, Fannie Lou Hamer, Robert Moses, A Philip Randolph, and Keene’s very own Jonathan Daniels, as well as excerpts from the I Have a Dream speech.  

These 4th and 5th graders spent last school year studying African American history to better understand what led to the Civil Rights Movement. They staged their very own March on Washington at their school campus last June complete with signs, chants and songs. The whole school then assembled outside where speakers remembered Jonathan Daniels, the March on Washington, and civil rights icons, through song, recitations and remembrances. The event was organized by music teacher, Ellen Jahos. Special guests included Bob Perry, a boyhood friend of Jonathan's, Mayor Kendall Lane, Ivy Merrill, local author of a children's book on Jonathan Daniels, and special guest Irwin Reese, recently retired from the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and one of the first two African Americans to be employed by the Met.

For more information about events planned during this 50th anniversary commemorative year, please visit www.jonathandaniels50.org.