Reeb, James

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Reeb, James Gender: M
James Joseph Reeb
born on 1 January 1927 at 00:15 (= 12:15 AM )
Place Wichita, Kansas, 37n42, 97w20
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
Rodden Rating B
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 09°50' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 07°17 Asc.s_libcol.18.gif 05°10'

Portrait of James Reeb 
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James Reeb
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American Unitarian Universalist minister and a pastor and civil rights activist in Washington, D.C. While participating in the Selma Voting Rights Movement actions in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, he was beaten severely by white segregationists and died of head injuries two days later in the hospital. He was 38.

Reeb was a deeply compassionate man who fervently believed in the principle of salvation, he lived and died in support of equality for all. Early in his life, he knew he wanted to be a minister, and by the time he was 16, he had completely devoted himself to his calling. Although he came close to failing in some high school classes, he was a devastatingly persuasive debater, particularly when he wholeheartedly believed in the subject.

Born profoundly cross-eyed, Reeb had to wear glasses to correct his vision when he was only 18 months old, and when he was five years old, he was plagued by a number of severe illnesses, which left him frail and incredibly skinny. Thus he knew from firsthand experience what it was like to be excluded because you didn’t have as much as others, to be left out because you weren’t as strong, and to be ridiculed simply because you looked different. During a memorable classroom debate, he defended the need of the poorest of the poor for help, and he alone held off his teacher and a number of his classmates who argued that the poor simply hadn’t tried hard enough.

In 1956, he began working as a non-denominational chaplain at Philadelphia General Hospital. He later moved on to the Philadelphia YMCA where he defended a group of young black boys charged with killing a Korean student at the University of Pennsylvania. This experience prompted him to set up a program to help guide pre-teenage children who seemed otherwise headed for delinquency. In 1960, he became Assistant Minister at the prestigious All Souls Church in Washington, DC, but it wasn’t long before he gave up the comfort of his pulpit there, and a large chunk of his paycheck, in order to work closely with the poor black communities of Boston.

Reeb was married. He and his wife Marie had four children.

On Sunday 7 March 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, a few whites and about 650 blacks began a planned peaceful protest march at Brown Chapel, planning to walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Shortly after they began, the police blocked their way, then attacked. Seventeen marchers ended up at the hospital. On Monday morning, Dr. King put out a call for all clergy to come and walk with them for their next attempt on Tuesday. A member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Reeb and his wife discussed the dangers but felt he needed to go to support his principles. Just before the march, Reeb had cancelled his life and health insurance, a result of the pay cut he took when leaving his job at All Souls. Upon his arrival in Alabama, he joined the others in meetings, and when the group broke up to have supper, he and two colleagues, Reverends Clark Olsen and Orloff Miller, headed to a local café. Finishing their meal about 7:30 PM, they headed back to the chapel for another meeting. Only a short time later, three white men accosted them on the sidewalk. One of the men swung a heavy stick at the group, connecting full force with Reeb’s left temple, and he dropped to the ground unconscious. The racial problems in the country extended even to the medical community, and it took a four and one-half hour struggle to get the severely injured Reeb to the hospital and into surgery.

The doctors quickly determined that his skull was crushed, and there was a massive blood clot. Although he made it through surgery, he was clinically dead, kept alive only by life support until his family arrived. He died of his injuries on 11 March 1965, about 7 PM, in Selma. President Johnson sent a private jet to take Reeb’s ashes and his family home, and a memorial service was held at All Souls Church. Reeb’s death was the major factor that influenced the president to put the voting rights bill before a special session of Congress.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : New Career 1956 (Chaplain at Philadelphia General Hospital)
  • Work : New Job 1960 (Asst. Minister)
  • Work : Begin Major Project 7 March 1965 (Protest march, Selma to Montgomery)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Homicide 11 March 1965 at 7:00 PM in Selma (Injuries from bigotry attack, age 38)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Duncan Howlett "No Greater Love" (1966) "It was past midnight when he came."


  • Traits : Personality : Principled strongly (Gave his life for equal rights)
  • Traits : Personality : Talkative (Effective speaker)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids more than 3 (Four)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : On the edge
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Philanthropist (Community work)
  • Passions : Criminal Victim : Homicide victim (Died from injuries, beaten by bigot)
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ political (Martyr)
  • Vocation : Religion : Ecclesiastics/ western (Minister, chaplain)
  • Notable : Famous : Historic figure (Leader of Selma march)