The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. w/ Leta McCollough Seletzky

1 Apr 2023 – 12:00 - 13:00 BST
FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival
Oxford Martin School: Seminar Room
University of Oxford
34 Broad Street

Join author and essayist Leta McCullough Seletzky for a talk about The Kneeling Man, her debut memoir about her her father’s life as a Black spy who witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King.

In the famous photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, one man kneels beside him, trying to staunch the blood: an undercover Memphis police officer embedded with the Invaders, a militant Black group in talks with King. This spy, the kneeling man, was Leta McCollough Seletzky’s father.Marrell ‘Mac’ McCollough was a Black man working secretly with the white power structure. To understand this, Leta began looking into her father’s life—his motivations, his career with the police and the CIA, and the truth behind accusations of his involvement in King’s murder. What would Leta uncover, and did she want to know? How might Mac’s story change her own feelings about her place in Trump’s America?

The Kneeling Man is a compelling personal and political tale of alienation and ambivalence; struggle, self-definition and compromised choices. Set vividly in the sharecropper South, on the streets of Memphis and in the halls of power, the twists and turns of this one man’s life tell the story of twentieth-century Black America.

About the author

Leta McCollough Seletzky is a National Endowment for the Arts 2022 Creative Writing Fellow. A litigator turned essayist and memoirist, she has written for The Atlantic; The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and The Washington Post. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and lives in Walnut Creek, California.


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