VMI to present native playwright’s work

Published 11:01 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A play written by Andalusia native Marianne Merrill Weber will be performed for the first time this month on the campus of Virginia Military Institute.

The play, Jonathan Myrick Daniels: The Martyr of Lowndes County is the story of the VMI graduate who died fighting for civil rights.

Daniels (VMI class of 1961) was a 26-year-old Episcopal seminarian from Keene, N.H. when he came to Selma to assist with the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and subsequent voter registration. He was arrested during a demonstration, jailed in Lowndes County, and slain by a white racist named Tom Coleman while saving the life of Ruby Sales, a young female black civil rights worker. The two were trying to purchase a cold drink at a local store. An all-white male jury found Tom Coleman innocent in a trial that focused national attention on social injustice and jury inequity.

Daniels was named a Christian martyr and his name added to the Book of Martyrs in Canterbury Cathedral in 1991.

Weber, a freelance writer currently living in Prattville, is the author of Truman Capote’s Southern Years (UA Press) that tells the story of the hometown of Truman Capote and his childhood friend, Harper Lee.

The play will be presented at VMI’s Gillis Theatre on the VMI post, Lexington, Va., on Feb. 26, 27, 28, and on March 1.