The Jonathan Daniels Corner in the St. James Episcopal Church
This commemoration of civil rights hero Jonathan Daniels was inspired by St. James' parishioner Melissa Herman. Although Herman held no official church leadership post, she approached The Rev. Norman MacLeod about a more long-lasting tribute than the existing exhibit in the summer of 2008.
My colleague from the "Journey to Freedom" celebration of Daniels' life, Melissa Herman, introduced me to Rev. MacLeod and we three created the concept for this corner. St. James Vestry members took a particular interest in the project, offering suggestions and refinements, and Lorraine Madden merits special recognition for negotiating helpful compromises. Special thanks to Peter Poanessa of Keene Signworx for taking our design and faithfully constructing a three-dimensional experience out of wood, Plexiglas, photography, type and talent.
Since I first learned the story of Jon Daniels, I have welcomed every opportunity to share it. My gratitude to Daniels' documentary filmmaker Lawrence Benaquist, Daniels' beloved friend Carolyn (Pierce) Sturgis, Journey to Freedom Chair Barbara Berry and the entire Journey committee who provided my education.
During that project marking the 40th anniversary of Daniels' sacrifice, a theme surfaced: "May his story never end." I like to think that every time we act in the spirit of Jon Daniels, with courage, goodness and fairness, his story continues. And so, my hat is off to "outside agitator" Melissa Herman who not only piped up with her idea but followed through with fundraising for the cause (and provided the photo at left).
It is my hope that everyone who stands in this corner will see his or her reflection in the panel and sign up to do something good in the world, following the words of Isaiah, "Here am I, Send Me."
Ruth Sterling, designer
STERLING Design & Communications and past Martin Luther King, Jr. / Jonathan Daniels Committee member,
August 13, 2009