Image - speaker and picture of MLK assassination scene
Past Event

The Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

In the famous photograph taken of the balcony of Memphis's Lorraine Motel just moments after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., one man is kneeling down beside King, trying to staunch the blood from his fatal head wound with a borrowed towel. That man, Marrell McCollough, was a representative of the Invaders, an activist group that was in talks with King in the days leading up to the murder. But he was also an undercover Memphis police officer reporting on the activities of the Invaders, which was thought to be possibly dangerous and potentially violent.

When Seletzky found out that her father had been secretly working for the white power structure as a spy, it was so far from her understanding of what it meant to be Black in America, of everything she eventually devoted her life and career to, that she set out to learn what she could about her father’s life, his actions and his motivations. But with that decision came risks. What would she uncover about her father, who went on to a career at the CIA, and did she want to bear the weight of knowing?

Join us for this intimate and heartbreaking story of a Black undercover police officer who witnessed the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a daughter's quest for the truth about her father. 

MLF Organizer
George Hammond

A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of Commonwealth Club World Affairs, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Bernard Osher Foundation

Photo by Gretchen Adams.

January 11, 2024

Commonwealth Club World Affairs of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Leta McCollough Seletzky

Leta McCollough Seletzky

National Endowment for the Arts 2022 Creative Writing Fellow; Litigator; Essayist; Memoirist; Author, The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates