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MLK/FBI is a 2020 American documentary film directed by Sam Pollard (known for co-directing the 1987 Oscar-nominated Eyes on the Prize), from a screenplay by Benjamin Hedin and Laura Tomaselli. It follows Martin Luther King Jr. as he is investigated and harassed by J. Edgar Hoover's Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The film explores the investigation and harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. by J. Edgar Hoover and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, through newly declassified documents. Interviews from Beverly Gage, David J. Garrow, Andrew Young, Donna Murch, James Comey, Clarence Jones, Charles Knox and Marc Perrusquia also appear in the film - the interviews are presented largely as voiceover; some of the interviewees briefly appear on camera at the end of the film.
Much of the documentary utilizes archival footage of MLK between 1955 and 1968, the years of his work as a civil rights activist. It is largely chronological, showing a young MLK from 1963 until 1968 when he was assassinated. No new information is revealed about his assassination. The last sequence makes the statement that not all FBI documents have been declassified, and that the whole record will be declassified and made available to the public in 2027.
The documentary covers the attempts by Hoover and the FBI to discredit King by collecting recordings and images of his private sexual life with women other than his wife. This is to denigrate his status within the civil rights movement for black people in the United States, which was gaining momentum. There is a stark contrast between the thoroughly white complexion of the FBI and the many crowds of black people assembled around MLK.
The film had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. It screened at the 2020 New York Film Festival and was scheduled to be one of the closing night films at the San Diego International Film Festival in October.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 99% based on 124 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "MLK/FBI presents a sobering overview of the American intelligence community's efforts to discredit and destroy a leader of the civil rights movement." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Odie "Odienator" Henderson has spent over 33 years working in Information Technology. He runs the blogs Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.
The Institute cannot give permission to use or reproduce any of the writings, statements, or images of Martin Luther King, Jr. Please contact Intellectual Properties Management (IPM), the exclusive licensor of the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404 526-8968. Screenshots are considered by the King Estate a violation of this notice.
Instead, Harpham was eventually caught and recently sentenced to 32 years in prison for a hate crime and other offenses related to the attempted bombing. The case illustrates how a quick response by citizens and local law enforcement averted a tragedy and how teamwork and time-tested investigative techniques led to the apprehension of an individual who has shown no remorse for his actions.
David Greenberg, a professor of history and journalism and media studies at Rutgers, is a contributing editor at Politico Magazine. He is the author of several works of political history including, most recently, Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.
Politicians, historians, universities, artists and citizens in general have been grappling with this question for years. Renewed attention to racism and discrimination has prompted the reassessment of historical giants from Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill to Gandhi. Sexual harassment revelations have felled a forest of cultural, political and business bigshots. Tasteless jokes, dubious comments or ill-advised tweets have led to scores of people being fired from prominent positions.
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And we see, in interviews and speeches, just what about King drove Hoover so crazy. The singularly eloquent King turned every public Hoover attack around on the Bureau chief whose agency was slow-footed in tracking down racist murderers, Birmingham church bombers and the like.
MLK/FBI had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and subsequently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was acquired by IFC Films and will likely be released in the coming months.
In 2027, the National Archives will finally release the many hours of audio the FBI surreptitiously recorded when its director, J. Edgar Hoover, sought to destroy the life and credibility of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.
Chris Barsanti has written for the Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Publishers Weekly, and other publications. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and Online Film Critics Society.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which once conducted targeted surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists during the civil rights movement, caused a firestorm on social media after posting a tribute honoring the iconic leader.
\"Today, the FBI honors the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A quote from Dr. King is etched in stone at the FBI Academy's reflection garden in Quantico as a reminder to all students and FBI employees: 'The time is always right to do what is right,'\" the FBI tweeted on Monday, along with a photo of the quote lit up in the darkness.
\"Reminder: The FBI spied on Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and today classifies Black civil rights activists as 'extremists,'\" the ACLU wrote in response to the FBI tweet. \"If we let the government whitewash history, we risk letting abuses repeat themselves.\"
Clayborne Carson, a professor of history at Stanford University and the founding director of the university's Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, told ABC News on Tuesday that the FBI has a \"sordid and regrettable history of surveillance and dirty tricks against Martin Luther King\" -- one that was part of a pattern in the bureau's treatment of civil rights activists.
Carson, who was selected in 1985 by Coretta Scott King -- MLK Jr.'s wife -- to edit and publish the papers of her late husband in the King Papers Project, added that the agency saw the civil rights activist as \"the enemy within.\"
\"J. Edgar Hoover and many of those in the top levels of the FBI saw Martin Luther King as the enemy within and they used what I think most people would consider illegal tactics to try to undermine him and to invade his privacy,\" he said.
According to the the Stanford research institute, as King gained national and international notoriety -- being named TIME Magazine's \"Man of the Year\" in 1963 and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 -- the FBI stepped up its campaign against him.
Hoover, then the director of the FBI, established phone taps and bugs to conduct surveillance of King and his circle -- an effort that was approved by then-President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, according to the institute.
The ACLU also referenced a 2017 FBI report in their critical tweet, adding that it was disseminated to law enforcement titled, \"Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.\"
\"Weaponizing surveillance against racial justice activists was wrong in the past, and it has no place in our present,\" ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Program, told ABC News' in a statement on Tuesday. \"The FBI has an ugly history of using government surveillance programs to spy on and attempt to discredit Black civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.\"
Sessions said he hadn't seen the report but added that he's \"aware that there are groups that do have an extraordinary commitment to their racial identity, and some have transformed themselves even into violent activists.\"
The ACLU slammed the report and sued the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice in March in response, demanding that the bureau release records about its intelligence program targeting so-called \"Black Identity Extremists.\" 781b155fdc