The Trump administration released a new batch of documents related to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy and included in those documents were a Federal Bureau of Investigation analysis of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that portrayed him in a negative light.
On Friday, along with documents about the assassination, was a 20-page document about the late civil rights activist, which attempted to tie him to communist organizations and alleged questionable financial dealings through the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the African-American civil rights organization that he founded. The documents also tried to paint his personal life in a very unflattering way, alleging extramarital affairs and other sexual improprieties.
The files do not reveal how or if any of the unflattering information was confirmed by the bureau or the documents’ authors. It’s also unclear why the 20-page document was included in the JFK files and why the documents have been hidden for so long.
According to CNN, the documents were reviewed by the National Archives and Records Administration’s JFK Task Force in 1994, but the documents were marked with an “X” for “total denial” of their release.
The Trump administration ordered the release of all documents associated with JFK’s assassination last month, and the National Archives released 676 pages of those documents on Friday.
The documents on King mostly cover a time when he was pushing for radical change in the United States. The FBI’s analysis of King does not try to portray an entire overview of the leader but rather attempts to portray him in a completely negative view.
The analysis was released on March 12, 1968, just three weeks before he was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Included in the documents were accusations that he was influenced by communists, including a man named Stanley David Levison, who was supposedly referred to as King’s “Assistant Chief.”
The documents allege that before working with King, Levison was heavily involved with the Communist Party, USA and that he was a “shrewd, dedicated communist.”
The documents also question whether or not King should have been awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1964. “These facts about the Nobel Peace Prize winner make his remarks seem incongruous when he replied after winning this cherished award, ‘History has thrust me into this position. It would be both immoral and a sign of ingratitude if I did not face my moral responsibility to do what I can in the civil rights struggle,'” the analysis concludes.
The file was created when the FBI was run by Director J. Edgar Hoover, whose interest in King has long been known. FBI investigators trailed King, looking for possible communist ties and information about his personal life.
During an interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN’s “AC360,” Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute Clayborne Carson cast doubt on the allegations in the documents.
“When we look closely at this, what we see is that there is a person who is trying his best to damage Martin Luther King’s reputation,” Carson said, referring to the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.