Fifty years ago, then-chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover publicly called civil-rights legend Martin Luther King, Jr. “the most notorious liar in the country” at a Washington DC news conference.
Earlier this week, the New York Times Magazine published an unredacted letter sent from Hoover to King that further shows the hatred Hoover harbored for the man who loudly and publicly criticized the FBI’s mishandling of the enforcement of civil rights laws.
In it, Hoover uses the word “evil” six times, once calling Dr. King a “colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” Hoover also discusses King’s alleged mistresses, describing them as “filthy dirty evil companions,” “evil playmates,” all engaged in “dirty, filth, evil and moronic talk.”
The letter was unsigned, but the author, who is now known to be Hoover, “suggests intimate knowledge of [King’s] sex life,” and “hints of an audiotape … apparently a recording of ‘immoral conduct in action.”
“Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure,” the letter says, telling King that he is “done” and has just “34 days … before [his] filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
When King received this letter in 1964, he told his friends that “someone wanted him to kill himself – and he thought he know who that someone was,” said the Times. And despite his best efforts at disguising himself as the author of the letter, King was sure the letter had come from Hoover.
Read the full text of Hoover’s letter.