FBI director J. Edgar Hoover saw Martin Luther King, the charismatic and peace-loving champion of African-American civil rights, as a threat to the kind of American society he liked: with white men at the helm.
Inspired by the work of historian David J. Garrow, and using information from declassified secret government documents, this documentary shows how Hoover and his associates went about bugging and thwarting King. Along the way it becomes clear yet again just how embedded racism was—and is—in American society.
Visually, the film is built up from a wealth of archive material such as news clips, television interviews, FBI promotional films, and scenes from Hollywood movies, accompanied by comments from various historians, writers, and other figures of the time. They reveal in chronological sequence how after King’s “I have a dream” speech, the FBI marked him in an internal memo “the most dangerous Negro in the future of this nation.” This signaled the start of a covert witch hunt that ran from the 1950s until Martin Luther King’s murder in 1968.