After MLK’s death, friar helped channel rage into successful boycott


First Communion, Easter 1955, at St. Francis School in Greenwood, Mississippi: Pictured from left are Jonathan Williams, Kenneth Rolling, Jerome Rolling, Franciscan Fr. Nathaniel Machesky, Wilson Granger, Jeanne Patricia Williams and James Alexander. (Courtesy of Andrew Brophy)

When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, African-Americans responded with grief and rage. Rioting erupted in more than 125 cities. In Greenwood, Mississippi, however, a white Franciscan friar, Fr. Nathaniel Machesky, helped to channel this righteous anger into constructive action. The Greenwood Movement, which he and two black ministers led, instigated a…

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