J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King

I’ve really been slacking with hard news lately.  Between my Space Jam editorial and my op-ed piece of the newest Call of Duty game, I figured was probably time to class this page up a bit.

Recently, fuel has been added to a long burning fire that we’ve all known for a long, long time:  J. Edgar Hoover is not a big fan of Martin Luther King, Jr.  This fuel comes in the form of an uncensored, full-text later that King received in 1964.  Back in the good old days, and by good old days I mean pretty awful days, especially in the Jim Crow south, Martin Luther King was what you may call “a renegade.”  King planned marches and protests, and fought Washington to give African-Americans equal rights.  King held a doctorate, was a reverend in his church, and his passive, non-violent approach to protest made him the perfect guy to be the face of the civil rights movement.

J. Edgar Hoover, at the time, was the director of the FBI during King’s rise to prominence.  Today, Hoover is held in pretty high regard considering he built the modern FBI we know and love today, and the FBI headquarters in DC even bear his name.  Hoover also hated Communism.  A whole lot.

So when it was rumored a member of King’s posse had ties to the Communist Party, Hoover decided he should probably look into that.  However, King’s prominence made it difficult for Hoover to tactfully and secretly monitor every single detail of King’s life.  This would be like trying to break into Peyton Manning’s house to determine if Demaryius Thomas is secretly a drug dealer.

Naturally, speculation arose suggesting Hoover wasn’t all that interested in hunting Communists after all.  What Hoover really wanted was to put an end to all this “civil rights nonsense”, it would seem.  Given King’s national recognition, it would be extremely detrimental should King be..compromised in any way…

If you are kind of getting a “Bond Villain” vibe from Hoover, you aren’t alone.  In fact, what historians claim happened next is pretty much the definition of extortion.

So anyway, let’s backtrack to the statement I made about new developments in this case.  A complete, untouched, uncensored letter written to King has recently surfaced.  In this letter, and anonymous entity makes all sorts of threats, attempts to blackmail King, and then disturbingly and vaguely tells King “he knows what he has to do”, and then gives him 34 days to do it.

King, as I mentioned, was an outstanding public figure.  He was a kind man, said all the right things, was intelligent, well spoken, Godly, and was a family man.  King also enjoyed in engaging in sexual activities with ladies not named Mrs. King.  The threatening letter stated King needed to withdraw from the civil rights movement, or the writer would expose King’s extramarital affairs.

King, of course, being the unselfish dude he was, admitted to these transgressions, apologized to his wife, and then went out and won the civil rights battle, since ending centuries of hatred was more important than a Jerry Springer subplot.  King, tragically, was assassinated in 1968 while standing on the balcony of his hotel in Memphis.  The assassin, James Earl Ray, in addition to living up to the reputation of killers having three names, was also rumored to have murdered King as part of a government conspiracy.

Since that’s been proven false and the courts determined Ray was just a racist extremist acting alone, all signs of “conspiracy” have blown over.  However, the conspiracy in this situation, which everyone seems to forget about, lies in the threatening letter.

The prose seems to imply a fellow African-American is upset with King’s tactics, and seems to suggest King kill himself to end the civil rights movement.  However, it’s been suggested this later was written by government employees who figured King offing himself would put an end to the civil rights movement, which to that point had been nothing but a disaster for the Federal government.

So where does J. Edgar Hoover correlate to this letter?  Well, it could be argued the FBI had a hand in this threatening letter, which is a scary thought.  It makes you wonder if the FBI really was above putting out a hit on Dr. King.  Keep in mind, King’s protests and speeches were entirely within the legal limits at the time, so the government had no right to even restrict his speech, much less suggest the poor guy kills himself.  King’s peaceful tactics served no threat to national security, which would suggest whoever is responsible for sending him that letter had some sort of political vendetta to prove.

So, if it was the FBI, that’s pretty messed up.


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