How the FBI Was Involved in MLK's Murder

How the FBI Was Involved in MLK's Murder

INTRO (00:00:00)

  • In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. received a blackmail package containing audio recordings of his adulterous acts and a letter urging him to commit suicide, sent by high-ranking FBI officials.
  • Many, including King's family and witnesses, doubt the official account that a lone racist gunman assassinated King.
  • A congressional investigation suggested the possibility of a conspiracy in King's murder.
  • Recently declassified FBI documents raise questions about the FBI's involvement in King's death.
  • The FBI was allegedly involved in a conspiracy to discredit and eliminate King due to his civil rights activism.

THE TARGET (00:04:55)

  • Martin Luther King Jr. used nonviolent protests to fight for civil rights in 1960s America, often facing excessive violence from law enforcement and counter-protestors.
  • King's strategy aimed to change hearts and minds by highlighting the contrast between peaceful protestors and violent oppressors.
  • His protests achieved significant successes, including the desegregation of public buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and lunch counters in segregated cities.
  • King faced opposition from various groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, pro-segregationists, business owners fearing social disruption, and even the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, who viewed him as a threat and engaged in surveillance, harassment, and attempts to discredit him.
  • The FBI's involvement in King's assassination was motivated by a desire to protect the interests of those who benefited from the status quo and to suppress the civil rights movement.


  • During the Cold War in the 1960s, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover suspected Martin Luther King's movement for racial equality was a communist plot to divide American society.
  • Hoover tasked his head of domestic intelligence, William Sullivan, to investigate the influence of the Communist party on King's movement.
  • Sullivan's report concluded that despite Soviet efforts, there was no substantial communist implementation within King's movement.
  • Hoover was furious with Sullivan's report and wanted King to be tied to communism to justify spying on him.
  • Sullivan changed his stance and produced a memo claiming the Communist party had substantial influence over Black people in America.
  • Sullivan labeled King as the most dangerous Black person in the nation from the standpoint of communism, race, and national security.
  • The plan was to discredit King and undermine his moral philosophy to stop his movement and leave the African American community without a national leader.
  • Hoover and his agents fabricated evidence linking Martin Luther King to communism and obtained approval from the Attorney General to spy on him.
  • However, they concealed their true intentions from the Attorney General, as they were not genuinely investigating communism but seeking any information to discredit King.

WHAT THEY FOUND (00:17:46)

  • FBI documents declassified a few years ago contain summaries of what FBI agents heard on tapes.
  • The tapes depict Dr. King as a womanizer with girlfriends and prostitutes in Las Vegas, New York, and Washington DC.
  • The memos describe excessive drinking, use of vulgar language, and communal acts of degeneracy and depravity.
  • The surveillance, intended to uncover communist connections, was used to gather ammunition to undermine King's leadership and moral standing.
  • The FBI was riddled with racism and agents sought approval from J. Edgar Hoover, who disregarded evidence contradicting his views.
  • Agents were tasked with collecting evidence to discredit Martin Luther King.
  • The reports are summaries of audio recordings, not transcripts, and are potentially tainted by racist bias.
  • The release of the actual tapes in 2027 may provide a clearer understanding of the situation.
  • The current evidence suggests abuse of power by the FBI rather than conclusive proof of King's alleged infidelity.

BLACKMAIL (00:21:31)

  • The FBI had been spying on Martin Luther King Jr. and had gathered evidence of his adulterous behavior.
  • In 1964, after King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the FBI sent a package to his house containing tapes of his sexual encounters and a letter threatening his life if he did not end his activism.
  • The media did not publish the tapes but did not expose the FBI's surveillance of King.
  • King was distraught but continued his activism despite the blackmail attempt.


  • About a month before a planned march on Washington, King was in Memphis supporting a strike by Black trash collectors.
  • On April 4, 1968, while standing on a hotel balcony, King was shot and killed by a sniper.
  • King was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead an hour later.


  • The FBI investigated and identified James Earl Ray as the assassin.
  • Ray rented a room across from King's motel and allegedly shot him from a bathroom window.
  • Ray fled to Canada, England, Portugal, and back to England before being apprehended and sent back to the US.
  • Ray initially pleaded guilty but later claimed he was set up and part of a larger conspiracy.
  • People close to King doubted the official explanation due to the FBI's history of spying on and intimidating him.
  • Investigations revealed unexplained circumstances, destroyed evidence, and conflicting timelines.
  • The House Select Committee concluded that Ray fired the shot but suggested a conspiracy involving others, not the government.
  • The King family sued and a man named Jowers claimed he was paid to hire someone to kill King.
  • A civil lawsuit found the assassination was a conspiracy involving government agencies, but it lacked a real defense and consequences.
  • Despite lawsuits and investigations, there is no conclusive evidence linking the FBI or any government agency to King's assassination.
  • The FBI withheld threats against King and failed to protect him as required.

CONCLUSION (00:30:50)

  • The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, used their power to threaten Martin Luther King Jr. because they saw him as a threat to their power.
  • Hoover and the FBI used their authority to carry out a personal racist vendetta against King and his movement.
  • The FBI helped create a negative public opinion of King by portraying him as dangerous and destructive.
  • Even after King's death, the FBI continued their campaign against him by lobbying Congress to vote against making his birthday a national holiday.

CREDITS (00:34:25)

  • Despite King's call for freedom and equality, the FBI's headquarters, named after J. Edgar Hoover, stands as a symbol of the old, broken systems that maintain power for certain people.

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