Ruby Sales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
External video
Civil Rights History Project: Ruby Nell Sales, 1:32:24, Library of Congress[1]
October 11, 2015: "The Legacy of Jonathan Daniels" with Ruby Sales, 47:47, Washington National Cathedral

Ruby Nell Sales (born July 8, 1948 in Jemison, Alabama) is an African-American social activist. She attended local segregated schools and was also educated in the community during the 1960s era of the Civil Rights Movement, she has been described as a "legendary civil rights activist" by the PBS program "Religion and Ethics Weekly"[2]

Sales participated, at the age of 17, in the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965; that year she was arrested in August with some fellow activists in Fort Deposit in Lowndes County, where they were picketing a whites-only store. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had prohibited such segregation, they were taken to the county seat of Hayneville and jailed for six days. After being released, she and a few others went to purchase sodas at a nearby store, she was threatened by a shotgun-wielding construction worker, Tom Coleman, who was a special county deputy. One of Sales' fellow marchers, Jonathan Daniels, a white Episcopal seminarian, pushed her out of the way and took the shot meant for her, dying instantly.[3] Daniels was a 1961 graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and valedictorian of his class, and was studying at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Schneider 1992; Eagles 2000; Ruane 2015).

Sales was so traumatized by Daniels' murder that she nearly lost the ability to speak for the next seven months. Despite death threats made to her and her family, Sales resolved to testify at Tom Coleman's trial, he was acquitted by a jury of 12 white men. The result of the trial led to legal challenges and a reform of the jury selection procedures, which had long excluded blacks, first because they were disenfranchised from voting before 1965, then because of a discriminatory process in developing the jury pool.[citation needed]

Sales went on to attend Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, successor institution to the seminary Daniels had attended, she has worked as a human rights advocate in Washington, D.C. where she founded The SpiritHouse Project, a non-profit organization and inner-city mission dedicated to Daniels.[4][5]


  1. ^ "Ruby Nell Sales oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-04-25". Library of Congress. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  2. ^ "Religion and Ethics Weekly"
  3. ^ Combs, pp. 85.
  4. ^ Combs, pp. 86.
  5. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (16 August 2015). "Black civil rights activist recalls white ally who took a shotgun blast for her". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 December 2017.


  • Combs, Barbara Harris (2013). From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom. Routledge. ISBN 9781136173769.
  • Daniels, Jonathan Myrick (1992) [1967]. Schneider, William J. (ed.). American Martyr: The Jon Daniels Story. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing. ISBN 978-0819215864. Originally published as The Jon Daniels Story: with his Letters and Papers (New York: Seabury Press, 1967).
  • Eagles, Charles (2000) [1993]. Outside Agitator: Jon Daniels and the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 978-0817310691. Originally published under same title by the University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, 1993).
  • Wallace, Rich and Sandra Neil (2016). Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek..

External links[edit]