Insight into the assassination of Martin Luther King
Gregg Reese | 1/12/2006, 2:02 p.m.
particular concern to Hoover was the burgeoning
Civil Rights Movement, which he saw as being ripe
for infiltration by the Communist Party. Specifically
distasteful to the F.B.I. director was the movement’s
most famous proponent, Dr. King, whose promiscuous
sexual liaisons offended Hoover’s puritanical
Since his death, Hoover has been the subject of
numerous insinuations and innuendoes, including
speculation that he was a cross-dressing homosexual
with hidden African-American ancestry, one source
being literary icon and fellow Washington, D.C.
native Gore Vidal, which may explain his relentless
pursuit of individuals with similar backgrounds and
“Hoover was becoming famous, and it was always
said of him - in my family and around the city - that he
was mulatto. People said he came from a family that
had ‘passed.’ It was the word they used for people of
black origin who, after generations of inbreeding, have
enough white blood to pass themselves off as white.
That’s what was always said about Hoover.” -Anthony
Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of
J. Edgar Hoover, 1993.
The idea that homophobes (those with an irrational
fear or hatred of gays) are themselves repressed
homosexuals goes back to Sigmund Freud’s initial
musings on the nature of human behavior.
Ethnic self-hatred is common enough to have
spawned a number of studies, possibly the bestknown
case being that of closeted U.S. Attorney Roy
Cohn (and a political ally of Hoover) who zealously
railroaded fellow Jews Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to
the electric chair for passing atomic weapons secrets
to Russia, and strongly opposed gay-rights legislation
before he himself died of AIDS.
As for Hoover, much has been made of the fact
that for such a well-known public figure, little documentation
was available on his early life, with no birth
certificate on record until he was well into his 40s,
along with his unusually close association with fellow
F.B.I. man and lifelong bachelor Clyde Tolson.
Hoover’s inclination toward the persecution of
African-American political groups went back to
Marcus Garvey and the Black Nationalist movement
in the early 1920s.
By the late ‘60s he had developed an intelligence
apparatus unsurpassed in its ability to amass information
on any conceivable person or subject, and implemented
a program called COINTELPRO specifically
to disrupt dissident political organizations. COINTELPRO
contributed to at least one murder, that of
white civil rights volunteer Viola Liuzzo, and after
her death circulated gossip about her alleged sexual
hi-jinks with her black co-workers.
Dr. King’s activism, viewed as radical and subversive,
had made him the subject of countless
vendettas, resulting in an arrest record consisting of
such various offenses as contempt of court, disorderly
conduct, disturbing the peace, driving without a
license, loitering, tax evasion, and violating probation.
The F.B.I. continued the harassment on their
end by forwarding damaging information on his personal
proclivities to colleges and universities that
conferred honorary degrees and other accolades on
him. His increased visibility in the media, nationally
and internationally, worked Hoover into a frenzy, and
his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 proved to