In March 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech.

The speech is (of course) very famous and was a pretty huge moment for the civil rights movement. But did you know about its darker side? Its unintended consequences?

See, J. Edgar Hoover heard the speech and was really ticked off.

Hoover was the director of the FBI. He'd been pretty obsessed with tracking King for a while, but when he heard that famous speech in '63 ... well, he didn't respond too kindly.


In response, he decided to ramp up the FBI's monitoring of King and the civil rights movement. The FBI had King's phone wiretapped, followed him pretty much everywhere, and recorded his private meetings.

At one point, Hoover held a press conference and went so far as to call King "the most notorious liar in the country." Whoa.

This is also around the time when the FBI sent King an anonymous letter calling him a fraud and insinuating that he commit suicide. Yeah, that actually happened.


(The letter is public domain.)

Geeze, FBI, maybe you need to take it easy on the middle-school-level insults? The letter says, "[Y]our last name calls to mind only the type of King such as King Henry the VIII and his countless acts of adultery and immoral conduct lower than that of a beast."

Needless to say, tensions were high.

In December 1964, Hoover and King had a meeting.

It probably didn't go exactly like this...

...but whatever did happen in that meeting, it definitely didn't ease tensions between the two. The FBI continued to eavesdrop on King, badger him and his family, and track his every move, right up until King's assassination in 1968. (For the record, at that point the FBI launched a full-scale investigation to find the killer).

So, one of America's most celebrated heroes was being intensely watched and intimidated by the FBI. How's that for some history trivia?

Here's the "Drunk History" version of the story. Check it out for a laugh!