Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Five years prior, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been killed by a rifle in Dallas, Texas. The deaths of both men generated conspiracies of government complicity, which in 1976 led to the establishment of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. A copy of its final report is preserved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives.
From defending the man who had blackmailed him out of the Southern Christian Leadership Council to serving as a character witness for Ariel Sharon, records from the Central Intelligence Agency and his Federal Bureau of Investigation file show civil rights icon Bayard Rustin was a man who couldn’t easily be categorized.
Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA
Bayard Rustin was many things: He was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, an advocate for Soviet Jewry, and, “a convicted homosexual,” according to his Federal Bureau of Investigation file. Despite being what many would consider a textbook lefty, Rustin also moonlighted for the Central Intelligence Agency. While that might seem like an irreconcilable contradiction for a man who sat in prison for two years because he refused to serve in World War II, but contradictions aren’t there to be reconciled, they’re there to confound.
Community Access Project sent this request to the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development of Somerville, MA