The Uncensored FBI Letter to MLK Found Hidden in the National Archives

In the fall of 1964, the New York Herald Tribune ran a story with the headline, "FBI Chief Calls Martin Luther King 'The Most Notorious Liar in Country.'" J. Edgar Hoover, then the director of the FBI, had found himself on the defense after King, perhaps the most prominent civil rights activist of the 1950s and 60s, accused the bureau of not enforcing civil rights law and using Jim Crow-era tactics to suppress Blacks. Hoover's real reasoning for labeling King a "notorious liar," however, was based on information he and few others were privy to: the details of King's sex life.

Despite knowledge among King's inner circle, he had never been publicly known as a lothario—but Hoover planned to out him, with hopes of soiling his reputation and derailing the civil rights movement. The Times Magazine recently published the uncensored letter by Hoover to King. In it, Hoover threatens to release news of King's extramarital affairs, information which he ascertained through FBI wiretaps in King's home, office, and various hotel rooms.



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