Martin Luther King Day is usually a slow time, so I decided to investigate this man for whom I knew relatively little about.
What struck me was how harshly our government persecuted Martin Luther King, Jr. and the number of times he was arrested for doing what he is now celebrated for.
I then began to note other American holidays that are based on individuals who were persecuted by whatever “authority” existed in their time.
Of course not every oppressed visionary gets a holiday. Preston Tucker, inventor of the first safe automobile, was arrested and almost did significant jail time. The big auto companies did not want to compete against Tucker’s safer cars, so they instigated a federal prosecution that stripped him of his assets and almost his liberty.1 (Most of Tucker’s safety features are federally required in today’s cars.)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
February 24, 1956
Linus Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the effort to ban above-ground testing of nuclear bombs. Dr. Pauling knew the radiation released into the atmosphere would have lethal consequences. The government rewarded Pauling by stripping him of his passport and threatening prison if he did not reveal who was helping him. This was done under the government’s theory that those against above-ground nuclear bomb testing were communist sympathizers. (The federal government admitted in 2002 that above-ground nuclear bomb testing caused at least 15,000 American cancer deaths.)2
Galileo was convicted of heresy at an inquisition trial for the crime of teaching that the earth is not the center of the universe. To avoid execution, Galileo renounced what he knew to be true and was given a “lenient” sentence of lifetime confinement.3
Galileo was not the first to figure out the solar system. Giordano Bruno was convicted of heresy for his teachings that the earth revolved around the sun. Bruno was burned alive at the stake.4
People today often forget the brutality with which visionaries were persecuted. We at Life Extension® don’t. This article will examine atrocities perpetrated against those who dared to challenge conventional dogma and how this relates to the sluggish pace of medical progress.
“On June 15, 1591, in the spectacular closing of the infamous North Berwick witch trials, Euphemia MacLean…was burned alive on Castle Hill in Edinburgh by the order of King James VI because, among other things, she had tried to assuage the pains of labor.
In the 16th century, pain relief during labor was considered to be witchcraft. It was believed that there was a physiological advantage to pain during labor.”5
—New England Journal of Medicine
August 6, 2009
Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from high school at the age of 15 and received his doctorate at age 26.6 He first gained public attention when he led a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama bus system. This happened after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man.7 During the Montgomery bus boycott, Dr. King was arrested, his home bombed, and he was placed under FBI surveillance.6
When leading a non-violent protest in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King was arrested and sentenced to four months in jail. Pressure from John and Robert Kennedy secured his release.8
The FBI by this time had assembled a full-time task force to disrupt and destroy Martin Luther King, Jr.9
The FBI’s harassment campaign included mailing an anonymous letter that threatened to expose Dr. King’s personal lifestyle choices. Dr. King interpreted this letter as an attempt to make him commit suicide.10
Despite high profile arrests and the FBI’s disinformation campaign, Dr. King became the youngest man ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.11,12 Linus Pauling received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.11
Both Linus Pauling and Martin Luther King, Jr. were targets of harsh government persecution.
How FBI Targeted Martin Luther King, Jr.
For decades, the FBI operated a series of covert projects aimed at surveying, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.13
These covert operations took place between 1956 and 1971.13 Tactics have been alleged to include discrediting targets through psychological warfare, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, smearing individuals using forged documents, planting false reports in the media, and illegal violence.14-16
The FBI’s stated motivation was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”14
One of the most abusive of all FBI programs was directed against Dr. King.13 FBI records show significant resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed “subversive,” including Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and other civil rights organizations.14
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of these organizations and their leaders.15
Under the direct influence of Hoover, many civil rights groups, particularly those focused on racial equality, were reclassified. Hoover’s justification for these illegal orders was his belief that civil rights groups were infiltrated by communists.16
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded in 1957 and within 10 years, the FBI began monitoring and targeting the group for “intensified attention,” focusing particularly on its leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr.16,17
FBI Goes Ballistic When King Says “I Have a Dream.”
After the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where his famous “I have a dream…” speech was given, Dr. King was singled out as a major FBI target. Under pressure from Hoover to focus not simply on communist infiltration of the civil rights movement, but on King specifically, FBI counter intelligence director Sullivan wrote:
“ In the light of King’s powerful demagogic speech. . . . We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security.”18
Soon after Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream...” speech, the FBI was systematically bugging King’s home and his hotel rooms.18
In July–August 1967, the FBI intensified its focus on Dr. King and other civil rights leaders and organizations. FBI offices were instructed to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of Black Nationalist ‘hate-type’ organizations.”16 A particular target was the Poor People’s Campaign, a national effort organized by Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The FBI monitored and disrupted the campaign on a national level, while using targeted smear tactics locally to undermine support for the campaign.16
Why Dr. King Was Deemed To Be A “Hate Type”
In 1976, a Select Senate Investigative Committee led by Senator Frank Church reviewed what documents it could obtain from the FBI’s multi-decade campaign that targeted a wide range of groups including those that sought out protection for women’s rights and those protesting the Vietnam War.
According to this Senate Committee, nonviolent organizations and individuals were targeted because the FBI believed they represented a “potential” for violence. The Black Nationalist counter intelligence program, according to its FBI supervisor, included “ a great number of organizations that you might not today characterize as Black Nationalist but which were in fact primarily black .”16
Thus, the nonviolent Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by Martin Luther King was labeled by the FBI as a Black Nationalist “hate group” and subjected to relentless government attack.16