Growing up in Alabama during the tumultuous days of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, Sales participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. She was arrested for her actions, and released after six days. While purchasing refreshments at a store in Hayneville, Alabama, her life was threatened by a shotgun-wielding construction worker, Tom Coleman. Sales' fellow marcher, white Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels, pushed her out of the way and took the shot meant for her, dying instantly. Sales was so traumatized by Daniels' shooting that she was unable to properly speak for the next seven months. Despite death threats made to her and her family, she resolved to testify at Tom Coleman's trial. He was acquitted by a jury of 12 white men, but the outcome of the trial led to reform of the segregated procedures that were used to pick juries in Alabama.
Sales went on to attend Episcopal Theological School in Massachusetts where Daniels attended (now Episcopal Divinity School), and has worked as a human rights advocate in Washington, D.C. as well as founding an inner-city mission dedicated to Daniels.
- The SpiritHouse Project, a non-profit organization founded and directed by Ruby Sales.
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