Tropic Sprockets / MLK/ FBI
By Ian Brockway
Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was a genuine superhuman by any definition. A new documentary by Sam Pollard, based on the book by David Yarrow, highlights the prurient research by J Edgar Hoover against the great man.
- Edgar Hoover was head of the FBI from 1924 to 1972. From 1962 onward until King’s death, Hoover had an almost personal animosity towards King. The nonviolent equalizer was deemed a threat to the status quo of white America, because of King’s holistic wish for his equality and his ability to mobilize crowds. Hoover called King “the most dangerous negro in America.”
Through a meeting arranged by activist Bayard Rustin, King meets the progressive Stanley Levinson, known to be a Communist. The FBI had what it needed. Getting word of this President Kennedy tells King to cease communication with Levinson. King balks. As a consequence, Hoover becomes angry, ever more certain that subversive un-American activities are being planned.
Hoover then goes to D.A. Robert Kennedy and obtains an order to bug Levinson’s phone. During a chance visit by King to the home of Clarence Jones, the FBI obtains some possible salacious audio of King talking to another woman or confidant. Shockingly, the FBI interest turns from the political to the personal, without ethical justification.
As the film excellently demonstrates, the basis for this investigation overwhelmingly has its roots in racism and white supremacy. King was shown to be an unpatriotic anarchist with an animalistic sexual appetite. Most of the information was exaggerated or fabricated with little weight.
After Kennedy is slain, LBJ passes the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Hoover then, in no uncertain terms, calls Martin Luther King a liar.
King agrees to meet in Hoover’s office and calls the meeting “friendly.”
The investigation continues, ceasing only when King is shot in sniper fashion by James Earl Ray on Thursday, April 4, 1968.
This documentary will sicken you as well as enlighten but it needs to be seen. I for one was ignorant of the FBI’s hatred for King.
It is percussive to see and hear the self-righteous opinions of two pedestrians as they pronounce King to be “too bossy.” Another man says, “If he is human, he is the worst of the worst.” Such words are as depressing as they are disgusting.
Despite the record of this ideological sickness, we can all take heart that Mr. King lived and he did so with a great spirit, not through ego, but through equitable actions. Hoover’s hatchet-faced might is right endeavors proved little, while King’s open and enthusiastic expression, having something of Gandhi’s smile—soldiers forth.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org