For the first time in more than 30 years, the contents of an anonymous letter sent to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have been revealed to the public.
The typewritten note, written in 1964 by a deputy of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover posing as a disillusioned civil rights activist, looks to have been a last-ditch effort to blackmail King into committing suicide. According to The Telegraph, a good bit of the letter’s content, which was heavily censored, was made public after Beverly Gage, a Yale University historian, discovered an unedited copy while researching a book on Hoover in the National Archive.
In the letter, William Sullivan, the agent identified as the author of the letter, used various sexual slurs against King in order to provoke the civil rights leader. The Telegraph goes on to report that the letter was accompanied by a cassette recording that contained evidence of King’s infidelity, which was known by the FBI via wiretapping his homes and hotel rooms.
The letter instantly goes in on King from the beginning as it compares the revered activist to Henry VII in a previously withheld section: “…and his countless acts of adultery and immoral conduct lower than that of a beast.”
Using deliberate misspellings and awkward constructions, it goes on to state the following:
“Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure.
“You will find yourself in all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time …
“You will find on the record for all time your filthy, dirty, evil companions, male and females giving expression with you to your hideous [sic] abnormalities.
“It is all there on the record, your sexual orgies. Listen to yourself you filthy, abnormal animal.
“You are on the record. You have been on the record – all your adulterous acts, your sexual orgies extending far into the past. This one is but a tiny sample.
“You will understand this. Yes, from your various evil playmates on the east coast to [name redacted] and others on the west coast and outside the country, you are on the record. King you are done.”
At its end, the letter apparently urges King to take his own life within 34 days. The timing is thought to be a reference to a date on which King was set to get the Nobel Peace Prize in Sweden.
“There is but one way out for you,” the note read. “You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
Although his wife Coretta opened the letter, King didn’t read it until he returned home. Afterwards, he showed the note to his advisors, who agreed it was obviously the creation of the FBI as well as an obvious attempt to blackmail him into committing suicide.
For more on the letter, click over to The Telegraph.