In the famous photograph of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony of Memphis’s Lorraine Motel, one man kneeled down beside King, trying to staunch the blood from his fatal head wound with a borrowed towel. This kneeling man was a member of the Invaders, an activist group that was in talks with King in the days leading up to the murder. But he also had another identity: an undercover Memphis police officer reporting on the activities of this group, which was thought to be possibly dangerous and potentially violent.
Leta McCollough Seletzky is the kneeling man’s daughter. Her book, The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., powerfully shares her quest to learn the truth about her father, Marrell McCollough. Join SPY’s Amanda Ohlke for a conversation with her and how she grappled with her father’s secret history — how he, a Black man, came to be working secretly with the white power structure as a spy — which she felt was in direct opposition to her understanding of what it meant to be Black in America, and of everything she eventually devoted her life and career to. Seletzsky will discuss how she set out to learn what she could about his life, his actions and motivations, and how this has affected her. From his time as a policeman to his career at the CIA, her father’s story is a unique and heart wrenching story of an undercover life.
Following the conversation, you’ll be able to ask questions via our online platform.
Auto-generated closed captioning will be available for this program.
Join us on Saturday, May 20 in the Spy Museum Store for a special book signing event for The Kneeling Man: My Fathers Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. with author Leta McCollough Seletzky.