The National Archives plans to release unheard FBI audio from when its director, J. Edgar Hoover, sought to destroy the growing influence of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The audio is set to be released on Jan. 31, 2027.
Two days after King’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963, William C. Sullivan, the FBI head of domestic intelligence, signaled an internal alarm on King in a memo, according to ABC News.
“We must mark him now as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation,” Sullivan said of King.
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“MLK/FBI,” directed by Sam Pollard, was released on-demand Friday. The film chronicled one of the darkest moments in the FBI’s history — their obsessive surveillance and harassment of the beloved civil rights leader who they believed was a threat to white America.
According to ABC News, from November 1963 until his assassination on April 4, 1968, the FBI wiretapped King’s telephone, bugged his hotel rooms every time he travelled and sought information from sources close to him.
“The film looks at this parallel story of the FBI and King and how they came together in terms of the FBI surveilling King, trying to destroy him,” Pollard said in an interview with BBC.
The FBI gathered evidence on King’s extramarital affairs which were sent to him and his wife Coretta Scott King to pressure him in submission. “You know what you need to do,” read the letter. Former FBI director James Comey said the letter to King was a historical low.
“You know this about humans. What we’re best at is convincing ourselves of our own righteousness. I think this episode represents the darkest part of the bureau’s history,” Comey said in the film.
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People took to Twitter to share their reactions of the film and their criticism of the FBI’s attempts to tarnish King.
Filmmaker Dream Hampton tweeted, “Sam Pollard’s new documentary about the FBI surveillance of MLK couldn’t arrive at a better time. Even during a permanent white nationalist insurrection, the Feds are not friends to Black folks. Never ever.”
Journalist Tariq Nasheed mocked the FBI paying homage to King on his birthday, Jan. 15.
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