"I asked the FBI to make an intensive investigation of Martin Luther King"
-Robert Kennedy, Attorney General Under JFK
J.Edgar Hoover was the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was put in place under president Calvin Coolidge. At the ripe old age of twenty-nine, the FBI was Hoover's baby. Hoover sought to protect the FBI, its investigations, and its reputation at all costs, even if that meant investigating a civil rights leader as a threat to the nation. Hoover was especially interested in MLK because he often spoke out against the FBI, and their continuous failure to properly investigate or prosecute criminals in civil rights violence.
Sick and tired of people saying this movement has been infiltrated by Communists … There are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida”
- Martin Luther King Jr. (1964)
J Edgar Hoover and the FBI investigated relentlessly into MLK and his connections. Through the use of spy, legal wiretaps, illegal wiretaps, and intense imvestigating they found more about his personal life than illegal activity. Hoover's personal vendetta with King grew after possessing audio recording of King and women other than his wife having sex. The FBI also suspected some go KIng's close friends to be communists, peaking their interest in him.
Robert Kennedy, the attorney general under his brother, president John F. Kennedy, ordered an investigation to be opened into Martin Luther King Jr, and his possible involvement in violent racial disputes. This investigation was to look into his activities with the SCLC and other organizations that were fighting for equality of African Americans in the United States. and the people he was around, searching for the possibility of MLK being a radicalist. Instead of radical cou plots, they discovered Reverend King's extramarital affairs, which Hoover considered exceptionally heinous. The FBI, through wiretaps, uncovered MLK's affairs and threatened to out him to the public. Hoover even went as far to send tapes to him and his wife, along with a threatening letter. In the letter Hoover told King that he would not call him Mr. or Rev. and that he believed King was a fraud and a threat. Hoover continues in the letter telling King that his end Is near, and that he should proceed with killing himself. This package of sex tapes and the letter was opened first by King's wife.
King denounced communism and its spread countless times throughout his career, and on many occasions reverend King preached that communism was the "biggest challenge to Christianity," but still Hoover believed that he would be a commie. MLK was friends with men who were former communists, and had connections to places like the Tennessee Highlander Folk School, told to be a "communist training school" (Stanford, Communism). After the FBI declared that SCLC employee Jack O'Dell was alleged communist, MLK bowed to the wishes of the Kennedy administration and fired O'Dell. King also cut ties with his closest white advisor, Stanley Levison.
J Edgar Hoover and the FBI reached out to MLK many times throughout the years of King's work, and on one occasion met in person. President Johnson allowed one hour for King and Hoover to discuss the FBI's surveillance of King, their beliefs of him being a communist, and his affairs. The meeting records show that none of this was actually accomplished, what resulted in the notes shows Hoover ranted at King for the entire meeting. He lectures him on the FBI, its purpose, its history, and its effectiveness. Railing King for doubting and even speaking out against the Bureau's work. Besides this meeting he did constantly survey King, and even warn him on possible threats to his life, including assassination attempts and the bomb at his house.