black history month
From 1967 to 1970, Black Panther Party founding member and Deputy Minister of Information Elbert “Big Man” Howard went on an international tour to mingle with foreign revolutionary movements, promote the BPP’s agenda, and raise money for the party. Documents released through FOIA following Howard’s death last June show that throughout all his travels - from Japan to Sweden to Algeria - the Federal Bureau of Investigation was tracking him and his activities.
FBI’s plan to send forged letters to expel Black Panther Party members was thwarted by a lack of stationery
Documents from the Federal Bureau Investigation reveal that as part of COINTELPRO, the Bureau once attempted to impersonate a redacted Black Panther Party official in forged letters to expel “fringe” members. That plan was ultimately never brought to fruition, but not due to any last-minute attack of conscience - the FBI had simply run out of the right stationery.
Oliver W. Hill’s FBI file reveals casual racism, a lack of Communist ties, and a case of mistaken identity
Oliver White Hill is among the country’s most important civil rights attorneys of the 20th century, known for pursuing cases to dismantle segregation in Virginia before and after serving in the army during World War II. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s file on Hill, however, offers its own remarkably skewed, racist, and paranoid view of Hill’s work, in keeping with Director J. Edgar Hoover’s deeply held suspicion of the Civil Rights movement.
One unexpected fringe benefit of a surveillance state is that it can make for a surprisingly comprehensive biographer. To kick off Black History Month at MuckRock, we put together a collection of all of our articles on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s forays into the lives of prominent African-Americans over the decades.