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The Reverend and the Director: FBI files capture the one and only face-to-face meeting between J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King, Jr.
While a not-insignificant percentage of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s activities under Director J. Edgar Hoover were driven by personal vendettas, few were as well-known – or as publicly vicious – as Hoover’s feud with civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. That clash quite literally came to a head on December 1, 1964, when, at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson, Hoover invited King to FBI headquarters for their first - and only - face to face meeting, captured in a ten-page memo in King’s file.
When we first requested the 132,000 page Federal Bureau of Investigation file for activist Frank Wilkinson, the FBI first claimed they couldn’t find it, then directed us to the National Archives and Records Administration. But when NARA tracked down the file, it turned out to be empty. So where is it?
In April 1950, the US federal government raided the offices of Scientific American Magazine to destroy every printed issue, burning three thousand copies. The reason? The banned magazine contained an article, titled “The Hydrogen Bomb: II” written by Professor Hans Bethe, one of the country’s most prominent nuclear scientists, which had been deemed a threat to national security.
The occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building by the American Indian Movement resulted in lost and damaged property, and a number of documents being stolen from the building. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated some of these thefts, including an alleged plot by journalists Jack Anderson and Les Whitten to pay for these records. The FBI file on the affair describes how a retired Justice Department senior official contacted the Bureau’s current staff to vouch for Whitten, referencing his history of cooperating with the FBI as a confidential informant.
Documents obtained by MuckRock reveal both what triggered the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s espionage investigation of The Village Voice, and what caused it to expand to include the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press.
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