J. Edgar Hoover on Martin Luther King (1965)

In 1965 FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sent the following memorandum, responding to queries about whether there was a connection between Martin Luther King’s anti-Vietnam War statements and possible communist affiliation:

United States Department of Justice
Memorandum, July 6th 1965

The Attorney General called. He stated he has been concerned about the Martin Luther King position on Vietnam and he wondered whether the Bureau could put together a memorandum on:

1. How King gets on to this extent; and

2. Has there been any hard Communist Party line tying together Vietnam and the civil rights movement.

I stated we would get that together. The Attorney General stated he thought it would be helpful to have for the Secretary of State and the President something that would tie some of this together.

I stated there was no doubt in my mind from information we have had in the past few months that King, Levison and Jones in New York have been having these huddles together meeting at the Kennedy Airport motor inn. I stated, of course, Stanley Levison is a member of the Communist Party and Clarence Jones also. The Attorney General asked if we had any information independent of that that the Communist Party is trying to tie Vietnam and civil rights together. I stated I thought there was something along that line from informants in the Party that there is a definite tie-in on that and we have had at various demonstrations over the last months, actual communists marching in the demonstrations…

The Attorney General stated there is a fair identity with civil rights groups of a lot of people who have taken the liberal line on civil rights and on Vietnam and there has always been that identity of view, but he is more interested in the hard part of it because he spoke with Roy Wilkins, who is somewhat upset and thinks it is wrong, as did James Farmer. The Attorney General stated they are concerned with what King is doing…

J. Edgar Hoover
Director, FBI