A group of St. Ann’s parishioners led by Fr. Craig Townsend has launched a parish research project to learn and tell the story of the relationship between the Rev. William Howard Melish, a former Associate Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in the 1940s and 1950s, and American author and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Their friendship was such that Melish preached at Du Bois’s memorial after his death in Ghana in 1963, as stipulated in Du Bois’ will.
The project hopes to arrive at insights into the connections between Holy Trinity and the nascent civil rights movement, and is a continuation of the parish’s social justice ministry. Researchers started by digging into William Howard’s personal correspondence in the Melish Collection at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History, next door to the church, on Friday, January 20. Photos of the first research session are available here.
The Rev. Dr. Craig Townsend is the Associate for Faith Formation at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral as well as Historian in Residence for Racial Justice for the Diocese of Long Island.
Many thanks to Kevina Tidwell, Special Collections & Outreach Librarian, who is overseeing and guiding the use of the Melish documents.