Tony Capaccio has an article in Business Week that points out that Marin Luther King’s famous I Have a Dream speech, the 50th anniversary of which was marked with celebrations the other day, is what led directly to the campaign by the FBI to use illegal wiretaps and bugs to blackmail King and other civil rights leaders. That speech scared the hell out of J. Edgar Hoover and his right-hand men:
William Sullivan, head of the FBI’s domestic intelligence division during the King surveillance program, told the committee in 1975 that, “No holds were barred. We have used [similar] techniques against Soviet agents. [The same methods were] brought home against any organization against which we were targeted. We did not differentiate. This is a rough, tough business.”
Sullivan reflected the view of top FBI leaders including Director J. Edgar Hoover, in an Aug. 30, 1963, post-speech memo entitled “Communist Party, USA, Negro Question.”
“Personally, I believe in the light of King’s powerful, demagogic speech” that “he stands head and shoulders over all other Negro leaders put together when it comes to influencing great masses,” Sullivan said. “We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security.”
The speech’s impact and popularity “very directly contributes in a very major way to Sullivan characterizing” King as “the most dangerous Negro’ in the country,” Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Garrow wrote in an e-mail statement.
“FBI officials viewed the speech as significantly increasing King’s national stature,” Garrow said, making him “measurably more ‘dangerous’ in the FBI’s view than he’d been prior” to it, Garrow said.