By Steve Neavling
The FBI was slammed for what could be described as a tone-deaf tweet that honored Martin Luther King Jr.
Tweet after tweet reminded the bureau of its cruel treatment of the civil rights icon.
Under the leadership of the bureau’s notorious director, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had spent nearly a decade keeping the civil rights leader under surveillance, convinced he was a Communist – or at least a national security threat. Agents recorded thousands of memos on the minister’s movements and interactions and even bugged his home, office and hotel rooms.
But they found nothing illegal or even dangerous.
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.” #MLKDay  pic.twitter.com/UKMLAAZw5w 
— FBI (@FBI) January 20, 2020 
Infamously obstinate and relentless, Hoover was determined to discredit the 35-year-old leader, especially after he won the Nobel Peace Prize and earned international acclaim.
While King prepared for his trip to Oslo to receive the award, Hoover denounced the Georgia-born minister as “the most notorious liar in the country” during a press conference in Washington D.C. in November 1964.
A few days later, the smear campaign escalated, marking one of the darkest chapter’s in the FBI’s history. One of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan, typed an anonymous, harshly worded letter to King that later would come to be known as the “suicide letter.”
Since Sullivan had nothing illegal on King, the letter focused on his extramarital sexual liaisons, which were captured on FBI surveillance.
The anonymous author calls King a “filthy, abnormal animal”and an “evil, abnormal beast” and pledges to expose the extramarital affairs “with your filthy, dirty, evil companions.”
The letter suggests there are recordings of “all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.”
“You are done,” the letter declares. “Your ‘honorary degrees,’ your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.”
The letter is crafted to give the impression it was written by someone within the civil rights movement, making a reference to “us Negroes.”
King quietly told friends that someone wanted him to kill himself.
The letter proceeds in what is an apparent reference to suicide, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … There is but only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”