The disturbing missive, which details intimate knowledge of King’s extramarital affairs, was sent in the days before he was to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and is written under the guise of a civil rights supporter angry with the movement’s leader.
A deadline of 34 days is given before King is outed as a womanizer, the missive, filled with grammatical errors, threatens.
“You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation,” the one-page letter, obtained by Yale professor Beverly Gage and printed in The New York Times, reads.
Though previously released in a heavily edited form, Gage found the original copy, free of redactions, among documents at the National Archives in College Park, Md.
King and Hoover had a strained and contentious relationship, evidenced by Hoover’s public claim that King was “the most notorious liar in the country.” And once the FBI, looking to discredit King and his relationship with a Communist sympathizer, began to bug his home and office, Hoover declared King “a tom cat with obsessive degenerate sexual urges” after hearing evidence of adultery.
The letter, written by FBI agent William Sullivan and eventually opened by King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, describes Kinds as a fraud participating in “immoral conduct lower than that of a beast.”
“King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all of us Negroes,” it reads.