Ruby Nell Sales is a nationally known human rights activist, public theologian, and social critic whose articles and work appear in many journals, online sites and books.
As a teenager in the 1960s, Sales joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and went to work as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama. In August 1965, Sales and other SNCC workers joined a group of young people who organized a demonstration to protest the actions of the local white grocery store owners who cheated their parents. The group was arrested and held in jail and then suddenly released. Sales was attempting to buy sodas for other newly released freedom workers when she was shot at by a construction worker, Tom Coleman. Her fellow marcher, white seminarian and freedom worker Jonathan Daniels, pulled her out of the way and took the bullet meant for her, dying instantly.
Despite threats of violence, Sales attended Coleman’s trial and testified on behalf of her slain colleague. Coleman was acquitted by a jury of 12 white men.
Sales attended Tuskegee Institute, Manhattanville College, and Princeton University and received a Masters of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. in 1998.
As a social activist, Sales has served on many committees and received many honors in her work on racial, sexual, gender and class reconciliation, education, and awareness. She served on the Steering Committee for International Women's Day, Washington, D.C.; was a founding member of Sage Magazine: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women; and was featured in Broken Ground: A Film on Race Relations in the South. Her video, Standing Against the Wind, has been shown around the nation.
She has preached around the country, spoken at national conferences on race, class, gender, and reconciliation, and done groundbreaking work on community and nonviolence formation.
Recently, Sales was selected as one of 30 African Americans to be spotlighted in the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Her story has been housed in the Library of Congress.
She currently serves as the founder and director of the SpiritHouse Project, a national nonprofit that uses the arts, research, education, action, and spirituality to bring diverse peoples together to work for racial, economic, and social justice, as well as for spiritual maturity. SpiritHouse roots its work today in exposing the extrajudicial murders of African Americans by white vigilantes and police.