Rev. Reeb was ordained a Presbyterian minister but converted to Unitarianism in 1959. Reeb was active in the civil rights movement, and encouraged his parishioners to do the same. With his wife and four children, he lived in poor black neighborhoods where he felt he could do the most good. He took part in the Selma to Montgomery protest march in 1965. While in Selma on March 9, Reeb was attacked by a white mob armed with clubs, which inflicted massive head injuries. He died in a Birmingham hospital two days later. His death resulted in a national outcry against the activities of white racists in the Deep South, although some expressed indignation that it took the death of a white man to incite such a national outcry.
Rev. James Reeb
January 1, 1927 – March 11, 1965
“So in his death, James Reeb says something to each of us, black and white alike-says that we must substitute courage for caution, says to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered him, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murder. His death says to us that we must work passionately, unrelentingly, to make the American dream a reality, so he did not die in vain.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (in Rev. Reeb's eulogy)
Submitted by our members in 2007.