Showing posts with label Dr. Martin Luther King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dr. Martin Luther King. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

‘The most dangerous Negro’: 3 essential reads on the FBI’s assessment of MLK’s radical views and allies

Howard Manly, The Conversation  January 13th 2023

Left out of GOP debates about “the weaponization” of the federal government is the use of the FBI to spy on civil rights leaders for most of the 20th century.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the targets.

As secret FBI documents became declassified, The Conversation U.S. published several articles looking at the details that emerged about King’s personal life and how he was considered in 1963 by the FBI as “the most dangerous Negro.”

1. The radicalism of MLK

As a historian of religion and civil rights, University of Colorado Colorado Springs Professor Paul Harvey writes that while King has come to be revered as a hero who led a nonviolent struggle to build a color blind society, the true radicalism of MLK’s beliefs remain underappreciated.

“The civil saint portrayed nowadays was,” Harvey writes, “by the end of his life, a social and economic radical, who argued forcefully for the necessity of economic justice in the pursuit of racial equality.”

2. The threat of being called a communist

Jason Miller, a North Carolina State University English professor, details the delicate balance that King was forced to strike between some of his radical allies and the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

As the leading figure in the civil rights movement, Miller explains, King could not be perceived as a communist in order to maintain his national popularity.

As a result, King did not overtly invoke the name of one of the Harlem Renaissance’s leading poets, Langston Hughes, a man the FBI suspected of being a communist sympathizer.

But Miller’s research reveals the shrewdness with which King still managed to use Hughes’ poetry in his speeches and sermons, most notably in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech which echoes Hughes’ poem “I Dream a World.”

“By channeling Hughes’ voice, King was able to elevate the subversive words of a poet that the powerful thought they had silenced,” Miller writes.

3. ‘We must mark him now’

As a historian who has done substantial research regarding FBI files on the Black freedom movement, UCLA labor studies lecturer Trevor Griffey points out that from 1910 to the 1970s, the FBI treated civil rights activists as either disloyal “subversives” or “dupes” of foreign agents.

Screenshot from a 1966 FBI memo regarding the surveillance of Martin Luther King Jr. National Archives via Trevor Griffey photo

As King ascended in prominence in the late 1950s and 1960s, it was inevitable that the FBI would investigate him.

In fact, two days after King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, William Sullivan, the FBI’s director of intelligence, wrote: “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.”

Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.The Conversation

Howard Manly, Race + Equity Editor, The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

...and the Republicans chose race

By Charles Brooks

LBJ Library photo

LBJ Library photo
A nation still divided on race celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights law.  As you read and/or listen to the various social commentary and analysis, there's a particular focus on how the 1964 civil rights law transformed the nation by dismantling American apartheid.  Consider for a moment how Jim Crow and states rights shackled black life in America where entry onto public spaces were severely restricted or just simply denied. Swimming pools, movie theaters, hotels. motels, restaurants, public transportation, libraries, hospitals and even cemeteries are just a few examples of  just how deep the racial divide was before the 1964 Civil Rrights bill was passed. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

A look back at 1964: a Series

The Sixties is well acknowledged as a period of transformative and fundamental change in America, especially as a time when race assumed a more pivotal role in American politics. There were three presidential campaigns during this turbulent period in American history that witnessed the contrasting forces of racial liberalism and racial conservatism collide against each other – in the backdrop of a national movement for civil rights for blacks. Although a strong argument can be made for the tumultuous year of 1968 as the single pivotal year during the sixties, a stronger argument can be made for 1964 as the pivotal year in American politics for several reasons.

For example during 1964, the 24th Amendment was passed opposing the poll tax, the foundation was laid down for President Lyndon B. Johnson’s vision for a Great Society with the Equal Opportunity Act to fight poverty, there was the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Dr. Martin Luther King being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, rebellions took place in black communities in New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Philadelphia, and three civil rights workers were killed. On the international scene, Malawi and Zambia became independent African nations while Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison – starting a nearly 27 year stretch as an imprisoned revolutionary and political prisoner.