On Tuesday, Beverly Gage wrote for the New York Times about the history of the letter which, until then, had been largely shrouded in secrecy, as have other clandestine FBI operations that sought to discredit alleged opponents of the United States government under the helm of then director J Edgar Hoover through a covert campaign of disinformation, blackmail and harassment.
“When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received this letter, nearly 50 years ago, he quietly informed friends that someone wanted him to kill himself — and he thought he knew who that someone was. Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the FBI. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited. A little more than a decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee on intelligence overreach confirmed King’s suspicion,” Gage wrote.
“There is only one thing left for you to do,” King is warned by the unknown author in the final paragraph of the letter published in unredacted form for the first time this week. “You know what it is.”