FBI’s fraudulent letter sent to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before huge crowds on the National Mall in August 1963, the FBI took notice.

“We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security,” FBI Domestic Intelligence Chief William Sullivan wrote in a memo two days later.

…Surveillance failed to show that King was a communist, but it did result in many tapes of extramarital sexual liaisons by King.

So the next year, Sullivan sent the following unsigned letter to King’s home. An unredacted version of it was only recently unearthed by Yale historian Beverly Gage, and published in the New York Times in November 2014:

Though the letter was unsigned and the letter writer appeared to want King to think he was black — “you know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes,” one line states — King and his advisers quickly concluded the letter had been sent by the FBI…

I was at that rally on the National Mall when Dr. King delivered his “I have a Dream” speech. It was hot and I was tired. And none of that mattered. This speech was a profound (and lasting) inspiration to all who heard it.

3 thoughts on “FBI’s fraudulent letter sent to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

  1. eideard says:

    I remember – riding the train back to Connecticut (we had so many folks signed up to go to DC from Fairfield County, we chartered a train) i was afraid no one would print King’s speech. Wrong! Even a newspaper as rightwing and backwards as the Bridgeport POST carried it complete in the next day’s edition.

  2. jimjouppi says:

    The minister at our church showed us a slide show with Martin Luther King sitting next to a card-carrying Communist, probably about that time, and told us that, if we wanted to know more, he’d be willing to show us his files. He (the minister) was thought of as an intellectual, and he even had an anti-Communist club.
    My mom joined his club right after we joined the church and became the secretary before she even knew what it was. My brother says he was a John Bircher, but I don’t remember that. This was in Scarsdale, New York; one of the richest communities in the States. But we (the youth group) didn’t take our minister very seriously. We thought he was kind of weird. This was a Lutheran Church incidentally. We had to memorize the 16th century writings of King’s namesake, who’d also been known as a rebel, in our catechisms.

  3. p/s says:

    “Newly Released File Reveals The FBI Tracked The Activities Of Aretha Franklin For 40 Years : The FBI kept tabs on the so-called “Queen of Soul” while searching for links between Franklin and civil rights activists, communists, and “Black extremists.” https://allthatsinteresting.com/aretha-franklin-fbi-file
    “Picking up in 1967 and 1968 through the early 1970s, the FBI was keeping files on almost every major Black figure and particularly anyone who seemed to be, or was suspected of being, involved in civil rights or Black politics,” Beverly Gage, a professor of history and American studies at Yale who has written a book on FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, told The New York Times [link].

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