Martin Luther king Jr

Reverend King’s reputation as a crude serial womanizer was further confirmed by his right-hand man Ralph Abernathy, in his memoir And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. (Which in turn led to his Stalin-esque erasure from the history of the civil rights movement.)

Undaunted by the blowback, Abernathy explained his friend’s behavior in terms that may sound familiar:

During the last ten years of his life, Martin Luther King was the most important black man in America. That fact alone endowed him with an aura of power and greatness that women found very appealing.

The FBI famously sent King a crass and clumsy letter, alerting him to the existence of all this sordid, damning evidence and advising him to commit suicide to avoid disgrace. At the same time, the Bureau also tried repeatedly to interest reporters in King’s activities, and failed.

A few years ago, The New York Times mused on this particular chapter in history: “Today it is almost impossible to imagine the press refusing a juicy story.”

The same piece winds up with a throwaway line that I’ll end on as well. I presume no additional comment is necessary, and that at this juncture, we could all use a good laugh:

The current F.B.I. director, James Comey, keeps a copy of the King wiretap request on his desk as a reminder of the bureau’s capacity to do wrong.


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