The Kneeling Man My Father's Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.by Seletzky, Leta McCollough
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Leta McCollough Seletzky grew up knowing her father occupied a unique position in American history as one of a handful of Black men working for the Memphis police department during the Civil Rights era, but there were mysteries about his past that he never shared with her.
In the famous photograph of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. taken on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, a man kneeled down beside Dr. King with a towel grabbed off a cleaner’s cart, trying to staunch the blood. The kneeling man is McCollough Seletzky’s father. Marrell McCollough was an undercover officer for the Memphis Police Department, infiltrating a Black militant group, the Invaders, which was in talks with Dr. King in the days leading up to the murder.
Painful unspoken questions about her father germinated in McCollough Seletzky’s mind as an adult. Who exactly was Marrell McCollough of the famous photograph? How could he, a Black man, have spied on Black people on behalf of a mostly white, racist police force? Was there any truth to the conspiracy theories about his involvement in Dr. King’s murder?
The Kneeling Man is the story of a daughter’s journey to understand her complex father.
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