It has been well documented that civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was under constant surveillance by the FBI under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover. A secret letter from Hoover was recently found, revealing threats against King’s reputation and other shocking revelations.
The New York Times published the letter in full, which was found hidden in the National Archives in Washington. The letter was not signed by Hoover, who made attempts to hide his involvement in its writing. The U.S. Senate confirmed that the letter was Hoover’s handiwork, and his manic obsession with taking down King’s movement was on full display.
From the Times:
The unnamed author suggests intimate knowledge of his correspondent’s sex life, identifying one possible lover by name and claiming to have specific evidence about others. Another passage hints of an audiotape accompanying the letter, apparently a recording of “immoral conduct” in action. “Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure,” the letter demands. It concludes with a deadline of 34 days “before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
“There is only one thing left for you to do,” the author warns vaguely in the final paragraph. “You know what it is.”
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received this letter, nearly 50 years ago, he quietly informed friends that someone wanted him to kill himself — and he thought he knew who that someone was. Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited. A little more than a decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee on intelligence overreach confirmed King’s suspicion.
Yale University historian Beverly Gage found the full, uncensored version of the letter inside Hoover’s official and confidential files. King received the letter as intended, and told colleagues he suspected the letter came from the FBI director.
Hoover was hellbent on taking down King based on the leader’s alignment with Communist Party figures. In its investigation, the FBI claimed to have amassed evidence that King was a philanderer. However, the story never got much public buzz despite common knowledge among King’s closest advisers and journalists of the letter.
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