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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

MLK/FBI

Streaming on the IFC Web site Film & TV

It is well known that along with Leonard Bernstein, John Lennon, and countless others, Martin Luther King Jr. was under F.B.I. surveillance in the 1950s and 60s. What becomes clear in this new film by Sam Pollard (Eyes on the Prize, Two Trains Runnin’, and Sammy Davis, Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me) is just how viciously—under the guise of already-legally-suspect “surveillance”—the F.B.I. tracked and taunted King. The longtime F.B.I. leader J. Edgar Hoover, famous for saying he “feared the rise of a Black messiah,” made headlines when he called King “the world’s most notorious liar.” He saw that King’s liaisons with women were taped and sent to the minister and his wife, Coretta, along with the advice that “he should go kill himself.” The F.B.I. wasn’t just surveilling King, it was attempting to undermine a whole civil-rights movement. MLK/FBI explores the dark irony that saw the F.B.I. labeling one of America’s greatest heroes “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation.” —J.V.

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