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This documentary examines, through archival footage and popular culture television and movie clips, two things: The rise of power and influence of the FBI in the ’50s and ’60s and its focus on the “communist threat”, and the growing influence of Martin Luther King in the ’60s that resulted in a targeted campaign by the FBI to discredit him. The FBI spent years wiretapping MLK and following him wherever he went and amassed what they considered was convincing evidence of his involvement in numerous extramarital affairs and more serious allegations of sex crimes. The film works well in showing how J Edgar Hoover built an “empire” in the FBI and how he popularized it with the American public while at the same time targeting primarily African American groups to try to destabilize their influence. The film also presents MLK as a great and inspirational, yet flawed and human, leader. The film is a sad testament to the truth of the abuse of power by governments against its own citizens; it is easy to think this happens in any other country, but it happens right in our own backyards. It leaves an intriguing question of what will happen when the FBI files on MLK are made available to the public in 2027. Big thumbs up from me. (2020; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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