Ruby Nell Sales is a highly-trained, experienced, and deeply-committed social activist, scholar, administrator, manager, public theologian, and educator in the areas of Civil, Gender, and other Human Rights. She is an excellent public speaker, with a proven track record in conflict resolution and consensus building. Ms. Sales has preached around the country on race, class, gender, and reconciliation, and she has done ground-breaking work on community and nonviolence formation. Ms. Sales also serves as a national convener of the Every Church A Peace Church Movement.
Along with other SNCC workers, Sales joined young people from Fort Deposit, Alabama 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. Jonathan Daniels, a White seminarian and freedom worker from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts was assassinated as he pulled Sales out of the line of fire when they attempted to enter Cash Grocery Store to buy sodas for other freedom workers who were released from jail. Tom Coleman also shot and deeply wounded Father Richard Morrisroe, a priest from Chicago. Despite threats of violence, Sales was determined to attend the trial of Daniels' murderer, Tom Coleman, and to testify on behalf of her slain colleague.
As a social activist, Sales has served on many committees to further the work of reconciliation, education, and awareness. She has served on the Steering Committee for International Women's Day, Washington, D.C.; the James Porter Colloquium Committee, Howard University, Washington, D.C.; the Coordinating Committee, People's Coalition, Washington, D.C.; the President's Committee On Race, University of Maryland; and the Coalition on Violence Against Women, Amnesty International, Washington, D.C. She was a founding member of Sage Magazine: A Scholarly Journal on Black Women. Sales received a Certificate of Gratitude for her work on Eyes on the Prize. Additionally, she was featured in Broken Ground: A Film on Race Relations in the South, by Broken Ground Productions. From 1991-1994, Sales founded and directed the national nonprofit organization Women of All Colors, dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for women, their families, and the communities in which they live. Women of All Colors organized a week-long SisterSpeak that brought more than 80 Black women together to set a national agenda.
In 2000, Dan Rather spotlighted Sales on his “American Dream” Segment. In 1999, Selma, Alabama gave Sales the key to the city to honor her contributions there. In 2007, Sales moved to Columbus, Georgia, where she organized: a southern summit on racism; a national write-in campaign to save Albany State from being merged into a White college; a grassroots and media campaign to shed light on the death of seventeen year old, Billye Jo Johnson, who allegedly killed himself on a dark road in Lucedale, Mississippi when a deputy stopped him for speeding; Long Train Running Towards Justice, which celebrated the work of Black teachers during segregation and explored the ways that the Black school culture has been destroyed by White officials under the guise of desegregation; and a meeting with students at Savannah State to assist them in organizing and mobilizing a move by officials to merge Savannah State with a White college.
In 2009, the History Makers named her a History Maker for her contributions to civic affairs. The Veterans of Hope Project selected her to be a part of its video series. Her video “Standing Against the Wind” has been shown at colleges around the nation.
Sales serves as the founder and director of the SpiritHouse Project. SpiritHouse Project is a national organization 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 Project houses The Jonathan Daniels and Samuel Young Institute for Racial Justice, which (1) supports and prepares a new generation of peace and justice workers who want to discern a call to social justice and nonviolence; (2) strengthens their courage, hope, resolve, and reason to do this work; (3) prepares them to play leading roles in public policy debates about issues such as poverty, prison industrial complex, militarism, the shrinking budget for human needs, voting rights, privacy and judicial issues, and neo-conservatism; and (4) helps grassroots communities meet their urgent need for trained and committed volunteers or staff. Throughout her career, Sales has mentored young people and provided support and venues for an intergenerational community of developing and seasoned social justice performing and creative artists. Sales has a deep commitment to providing the education, practical experiences, and frame of references to contest racism and add their voices to a public conversation on the many streams of oppression that emerge from it.
SpiritHouse also houses SisterAll Programs that bring Black women together in assemblies, classrooms, and performance spaces to renew our historical roles as a community of activists, spiritual guides, and leaders who stand and work on the front lines for racial, economic, and human rights using the tools of nonviolence and participatory democracy. SisterAll One was a community-building project that called together black female scholars, activists, artists, students, workers, practitioners, and lay and ordained spiritual leaders between the ages of 18 and 35, alongside older Black women who have been long distance runners for justice.
Ruby Sales’ Spirit House Project interns will share what they have learned in their work tracking the different points of connection within the Prison Industrial Complex and Criminal Justice Reform.
Spirit House is located at 1884 Ponce De Leon Avenue NE #1, Atlanta, GA 30307