How the FBI 'spied on Martin Luther King and tried to drive him to SUICIDE in a "racist panic" over civil rights icon'

DECADES after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, an upcoming documentary shows how the Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly attempted to push the civil rights leader to commit suicide. 

MLK/FBI, planned for release in January and currently playing at the DOC NYC documentary festival, explores then-FBI Director J Edgar Hoover’s motivations in a smear campaign against King. 


The film is based on FBI reports unsealed last year that “revealed the crazed lengths to which J Edgar Hoover’s FBI went to surveil, harass, and even attempt to drive King to suicide,” The Daily Beast’s entertainment editor Melissa Leon wrote on Sunday.

Their efforts were “all to expose what Hoover and his G-men claimed in a racist panic as the hypocrisy of a nation’s moral leader engaging in ‘degenerate’ sexual acts in private,” Leon wrote.

Some of King’s closest confidants have confirmed that the married father had extramarital affairs while traveling across the US to lead a civil rights movement. 

The FBI wiretapped King’s friends and moved to expose his personal life. 


One day, an envelope with no return address arrived at King and his wife Coretta’s home.

Inside the envelope was a tape of alleged recordings of King having sex with women at hotels he stayed at. 

Accompanying the tape was a letter from a fictional former admirer describing King as “sexually psychotic,” a “beast,” and a “fraud.” 

“I know what you’ve done,” stated the note written by the FBI’s second-in-command William Sullivan.


The letter gave King a deadline in 34 days and he knew it was a demand that he kill himself.  

King did not comply, and the deadline passed without him facing harm on that exact matter.

However, King, who was assassinated in 1968, lived the remainder of his life aware that enemies were watching his personal life. 

The FBI apparently realized its opportunity to expose King’s private life after wiretapping a conversation he had with his friend Clarence Jones. 


"Clarence, don’t you know the FBI’s got better and more important things to do than wiretap our phones?” King told the attorney and speechwriter.

In 1968, as King organized a Poor People’s Campaign march on Washington, DC, Sullivan apparently wrote on the margins of an FBI surveillance report on the civil rights icon.

Beside a section detailing a Baptist minister allegedly raping a female parishioner in a hotel room, Sullivan penned, “King looked on and laughed and offered advice.”

Leon called it “the most incendiary allegation in the document,” and noted that the rest of the FBI’s file on King will be unsealed in seven years. 

“There will likely be exhaustive scrutiny of the materials’ grimmest allegation, involving rape,” Leon wrote.

“It will be important that when the time comes, the complete, often maddening history of King’s fraught relationship with the FBI is not forgotten.”

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