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King's FBI File - Riverside Church Speech on Vietnam

Historian David Garrow says that in the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life, the civil rights leader posed a greater political threat to the reigning American government than ever before. One main reason was King's increasingly vocal opposition to America's war in Vietnam. In 1967, most Americans still backed the war. King's position was relatively radical for the time. And Lyndon Johnson - who felt privately that the deepening war might doom his presidency - was exceedingly sensitive to criticism of his Vietnam policy. LBJ resented that King, a former ally on civil rights, would turn on him over Vietnam. Knowing Johnson's mood, Hoover and the FBI fed the White House a steady stream of intelligence on King's activities.

In early March, 1967, this secret FBI memo proposed a plan to enlist a journalist "friendly" to the Bureau to embarrass King. The memo notes that King was recently back from a vacation in which he determined to turn his energies against the war in Vietnam. The plan involved planting questions with a willing reporter to expose how King's positions paralleled those of the communist party. The memo bears initials of several top Bureau officials, including an "OK" with J. Edgar Hoover's initial "H" below it.

To: Mr. Sullivan

From: C. D. Brennam

Subject: MARTIN LUTHER King Jr. SECURITY MATTER - C

PURPOSE: To obtain approval to furnish a suggested list of questions to a friendly news source to be used in interviewing Martin Luther King Jr., President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

BACKGROUND: King has been on a two-month vacation in Jamaica writing a new book. During this time he has been attempting to determine what direction he should take in regards to national issues. His inclination is to direct his entire efforts in opposition to the war in Vietnam. During the past two weeks, he has started making public appearances again. In California on 2/25/67 he attacked the war in Vietnam and suggested quitting Vietnam, according to an article in "The New York Times." At one point he made a statement that might be considered revolutionary. He stated in part, "we have got to get out and demonstrate and protest until it rocks the very foundations of this Nation."

Also, while King was out of the country, the voter registration drive in Chicago failed miserably. He is very sensitive about this failure and feels it hurt his public image. He is also sensitive about allegations his personal appeal to the ghetto Negro is waning.

Another factor that is influencing his decision is Reverend James Bevel's leaving his post as Project Director, Chicago Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to become Executive Director, Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, New York, New York. This also transpired while King was in Jamaica. In addition, Bevel's wife traveled to Hanoi, North Vietnam, late in 1966. Bevel and his wife continue to be paid salaries by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference even though they have new employment.

OBSERVATIONS: It is felt that King would be very vulnerable to an interview by the press, providing the interviewer was furnished a list of suggested questions. The press

CONTINUED - OVER

Memorandum to Mr. Sullivan
Re: -MARTIN LUTHAR King Jr.
100-106670

representative could arrange for an interview ostensibly to question King concerning his new book. During the interview the above inter-related activities could be developed, particularly to bring out the political reorientation of King’s major efforts in relation to United States foreign policy as contrasted to the position taken by other civil rights leaders who have continued to direct their efforts at civil rights. This then could be linked to show that King’s current policies remarkably parallel communist efforts. This would cause extreme embarrassment to King. Further, it is felt that since the position and paths taken by King and his group closely parallel that advocated by the Communist Party, this fact should be made known to the public.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
That the attached list of questions be furnished the Crime Records Division in an effort to interest a friendly news media representative in interviewing King.



One week before King made his historic April 4, 1967 speech against the Vietnam War at New York's Riverside Church, an FBI report disclosed preparations by King and his adviser Stanley Levison to deal with potential fallout among financial supporters of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
New York, New York
March 29, 1967

In Reply, Please Refer to
File No.
Bureau 100-106670
100-438794

Martin Luther King Jr.
Security Matter - C

Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

On March 27, 1967, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised that information had come to his attention which disclosed that Martin Luther King, the President of the Southern Christion Leadership Conference (SCLC), Stanley Levison and Joan Daves, the publisher's representative of King's books, were in [word redacted] conference on that date. The following was what transpired during this conference:

Daves pointed out that with regard to King's latest book, various chapters were sent out to magazines including the "Saturday Evening Post", but none agreed to publish. It was King's decision to publish a book and not try to get other magazines to publish his works. His decision was on advice from Levison that he should not try to get his book printed in magazine installments since it was his opinion that the time is not right for this kind of book.

With regard to King's personal plans, it was learned that he would be in Louisville, Kentucky on March 28, 1967, and would remain there until Friday, March 31, 1967. The purpose of his trip was unknown to the source. The source was able to learn, however, that upon his return to Atlanta on Friday, King will address the Georgia Teachers Association. It is believed that King's presence in Louisville will be to attend the Board Meeting of the SCLC.

Martin Luther King Jr.;
Communist Infiltration of the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)

Following their conference with Joan Daves, Levison and King met together during which time they discussed the whole question as to how to approach foundations, in light of King's stand on Vietnam. Both men agreed that they might not be able to get the support of the foundations, so instead of having to rely on the foundations, they should think of other avenues through which they could get funds for the SCLC and for King personally. Consequently, they decided that a meeting would be held in New York City on Tuesday, April 4, 1967, to discuss this matter. Among those who are expected to attend are Harry Wachtel, Chauncey Eskridge (Chicago attorney) and Jessie Jackson.

It was also revealed that on the same date as the New York meeting of April 4, 1967, King will attend and address a meeting at the Riverside Church, New York, New York, the purpose of which will be to neutralize any adverse criticism he might receive for having agreed to participate in the march against the war in Vietnam scheduled for April 15, 1967. The march in question is the one being sponsored by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam which is to commence in Central Park, New York and go to the United Nations.

The address which King will make on Tuesday night at Riverside Church will be attended by students from Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University and by people from every walk of life. Along with the address, King will make a press statement explaining why he felt the need for taking a greater stand against the war and also making it clear that it was his own decision and did not involve the SCLC.

In discussing his trip to New York on Tuesday, King set the meeting with Levison and other advisors for 10:00 a.m. at the New York Hilton Hotel. In this regard, Levison desires to make a statement to Wachtel and the others in attendance that he has King's permission to hold finance meetings in King's absence. It is felt by Levison that Wachtel hesitates to act in the absence of King which delays Levison in his fund raising activities in behalf of the SCLC.

Martin Luther King, Jr;
Communist Infiltration of the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)

With reference to fundraising activities, it was learned by the source that Levison wants to draw in some volunteers for fund raising and according to Levison, these people would become members of the Finance Committee. He is dissatisfied with the haphazard approach that has been used by the SCLC.

[paragraph redacted]

Harry Wachtel is the Executive Vice President of the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, New York, New York

[paragraph redacted]

A characterization of the National Lawyers Guild is attached hereto.



A March 25, 1967 telephone conversation, tapped by the FBI, demonstrates the misgivings that King adviser Stanley Levison had over the upcoming Riverside Church speech. The FBI relentlessly described Levison as a long-time communist operative. Here Levison urges King to moderate his stance on Vietnam. In this report, King and Levison also discuss the SCLC's struggling program to organize poor black people in Chicago's slums. Because the FBI's wiretap program against King was top-secret, the report describes the intelligence as coming from a reliable, "confidential source."

New York, New York
March 29, 1967

Bufile 100-438794
NY file 100-149194

Re: Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Internal Security - C

On March 25, 1967, a confidential source who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised that he had learned that Martin Luther King and Stanley Levison were in conference on that date. Their contact was in regard to matters pertinent to the SCLC.

Levison was very concerned over King's involvement in anti-Vietnam war activities and in particular, the effect it will have on the SCLC. Levison had in mind King's decision to participate in the April 15, 1967, anti-war demonstration to be held in New York City (NYC) outside the United Nations (UN) headquarters. In elaborating, Levison pointed out that the SCLC had to bear in mind that in the fund raising letters which it had sent out, no mention was ever made of the peace issue and no request was made for money for peace activities. Levison was of the opinion that King would be asked by the press to explain why that was not done.

King was of the opinion that something should be sent to SCLC contributors explaining that his involvement in peace activities was a matter of personal conscience on his part and that as an organization, the SCLC is basically committed to civil rights activities, and that it does not use an of its funds for peace activities.

This document contains neither recommendations nor conclusions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is the property of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is loaned to your agency; it and its contents are not to be distributed outside your agency

[word redacted] [sentence redacted]

Communist Infiltration of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Internal Security - C

Levison was in agreement with King’s suggestion and commented that contributions to the SCLC had not fallen off as a consequence of King’s recent statements on the Vietnam war. Levison’s apprehension over King’s decision to get involved was not due to any specific criticism or loss of funds but instead, was anticipatory of future complaints. Levison pointed out that their fund raising activities are for civil rights and not for peace activities. It was his feeling that a fraud would be committed if some explanation was not made to contributors. Levison agreed to handle the matter himself, thereby relieving King of the responsibilities inherent to such a task.

Levison inquired of King id he had been told about a letter which Joan Daves (publishers representative) had received from Norman Cousins, the Editor of the "Saturday Review", pointing out that this publication would not run any of King’s articles or any of the SCLC’s material, since King and his organization had become active in the anti-war demonstrations. Cousins said the name of King and the SCLC would be mud within six months, therefore, it would not be profitable to run any of their articles. King commented that he had sent Andrew Young, the Executive Director of the SCLC, to see Cousins and explain the positions of King and the SCLC. Levison wanted to know if Cousins changed his opinion after being informed that it was a matter of conscience on King’s part which has changed his position on the war in Vietnam. Cousins’ position was such that he felt that peace demonstrations were "Hate America" forces and that they would end up doing more harm thatn good; that they would bring about a climate that would really call more for escalation than de-escalation. Levison was of the opinion that Norman Cousins had always been very much in the right wing of the peace movement.

Another matter considered by Levison and King was the SCLC’s program in Chicago. It was Levison who brought up what he described as the housing proposition and in that regard, said he had informed Chauncey Eskridge (Chicago attorney and advisor to King) that he would contribute $7,500.00 and another $1,000 towards the expenses incident to the program. The expenses, Levison commented, have already amounted to

Communist Inflitration of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Internal Security - C

over $4,000.00 and he did not see any possibility of them decreasing in the future. The one thing about the program which bothers Levinson is the lack of competence of the people who are administering the program. Consequently, he felt a very serious responsibility to the businessmen of Chicago who have put their money in the venture. Levison advised King to explain the risks inherent to these men and to get their word that they are doing this voluntarily.

King, the source advised, has already contacted the men who have a business interest in the Chicago project and came away with their support after being told by King that their risks were minimized. After learning this, Levison was incensed that King had assured them of such a thing. He inquired as to whom King had relied upon as his economic advisors and after learning that Chauncey Eskridge and Jess [Word redacted] Gill had been consulted, commented that neither knows anything about economics.

It was King's impression that all the Chicago business investors had agreed to stay with the project, and had unanimously agreed with the idea of six per cent interest. But what is actually needed to get the project underway, according to King, is $25,000.00 to $30,000.00. Levison expressed pessimism, but agreed to leave a certain amount of money in the project because he is willing to risk it [Word redacted] in order to do something constructive.

King wanted to know if Levison would be able to attend the forthcoming meeting of the SCLC Board. Levison was not certain that he would, since he was away for a couple of weeks, during which time his personal business suffered considerably.

The source said that he was also able to ascertain that King informed Levison of a meeting which he, King, had attended in Atlanta, Georgia, last week, during which time [Word redacted] he put on paper the kind of structure the SCLC should have. It was King's impression that the Executive Staff of the SCLC

Communist Infiltration of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SLC)
Internal Security - C

received his recommendations very enthusiastically. In elaborating, King mentioned that he was trying to get an Executive Director for the Chicago operation and T. Y. Rogers as Director of Affiliates and Joseph Lowery as Executive Secretary.

Levison and King ended their conference with Levison's reassurance that King was taking the right stand on the Vietnam war. King acknowledged that he would probably get a lot of criticism but was of the opinion that this country’s position is so wrong that a prophecy is needed. It was his opinion that he should be the prophet to inform the country of this fact

[paragraph redacted]



This April 5, 1967 memo describes the FBI's physical surveillance of King and his colleagues while they stayed at the Americana Hotel in New York City. It also relays King's five-point program to end the war in Vietnam.

New York, New York
April 5, 1967

Bureau 100-106670
100-438794

Martin Luther King Jr.
Security Matter - C

Communist Infiltration of the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)
Internal Security - C

On March 27, 1967, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised that Martin Luther King and Stanley Levison, while in conference on that date, decided to hold a meeting in New York City on April 4, 1967, to discuss fund raising for the SCLC. This decision was made in view of King's anti-Vietnam war statements. It was felt by King and Levison that they might not be able to get funds for the SCLC and for King in view of his statements and therefore, felt it necessary to consider other avenues through which funds could be raised.

Among individuals expected to attend were Harry Wachtel, Levison, King, Jessie Jackson and Chauncey Eskridge (Chicago attorney and advisor to King and the SCLC).

It was also revealed that on the same date, King would address a meeting at the Riverside Church, New York City, the purpose being to state his views with regard to statements he had made on Vietnam. It was felt that an explanation would counter any attacks made against him for having agreed to participate in the march of April 15, 1967, sponsored by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

[paragraph redacted]

This document contains neither recommendations nor conclusions of the FBI. It is the property of the FBI and is loaned to your agency; it and its contents are not to be distributed outside your agency.

Martin Luther King Jr.;
Communist Infiltration of the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)

On March 31, 1967, the same confidential source furnished information that Stanley Levison and Dora McDonald (personal secretary to Martin Luther King) conferred on that date about the fund raising meeting scheduled for April 4, 1967, in New York City. McDonald related that it would be held in King’s hotel suite at the Americana Hotel, commencing at 10:00 a.m. and ending at 5:00 p.m. Levison and McDonald agreed that Adele Kantor (special fund raiser and head of SCLC’s New York office) and Al Duckett should be in attendance.

On April 4, 1967, a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) overheard a Negro male ask the inquiry desk at the Americana Hotel, New York City, the room number for the Reverend Andrew Young (the Executive Director of the SCLC). Subsequently, after being told that he was in suite 1501-1502, the Negro male took the elevator which serviced the 15th floor.

Special Agents of the FBI also observed the following activities at the hotel on April 4, 1967:

Martin Luther King, Harry Wachtel and an unknown Negro male walked into the lobby at 10:55 a.m. and took the elevator that serviced the 15th floor; at 11:05 a.m., Andrew Young entered the hotel and took the same elevator; and at 11:12 a.m., Stanley Levison came into the hotel and took the same elevator.

On April 5, 1967, "The New York Times", on page 1, carried an article captioned “Dr. King Proposes A Boycott of War". The article reported that King had a news conference in New York City on April 4, 1967, during which time he called on Negroes and “all white people of good will" to boycott the Vietnam war by becoming conscientious objectors to military service.

Later, the article noted, King addressed an overflow crowd of more than 3,000 persons at Riverside Church, during which he described the American Government as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today".

Martin Luther King Jr.;
Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

King also laid out a five-point program designed to "begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict".

In his address, sponsored by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, King likened the use of new American weapons on the peasants of Vietnam to the Germans' testing of "new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe".

In suggesting his program, King made the following recommendations:

"The end of all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

"The declaration of a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action would create an atmosphere for negotiations.

"The taking of immediate steps to prevent other wars from developing in Southeast Asia by curtailing the military buildup in Thailand and interference in Laos.

"The recognition that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must therefore play a role in any meaningful negotiation and in any future Vietnam Government.

"The establishment of a date on which the United States will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the Geneva Agreement of 1954."

In tracing the course of American involvement in Vietnam, the article quotes King as saying that the United States was on the wrong side of a world revolution and urged that United States leaders admit "that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam".

Martin Luther King Jr.;
Communist Infiltration of the
Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC)

[paragraph redacted]

[paragraph redacted]

In describing the Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, the article in “The New York Times" said it was formed in 1966 and that it has about 5,000 to 6,000 members throughout the country. The bi-racial interfaith group has urged the United States Government to cease bombing North Vietnam and to reduce the fighting in South Vietnam to create a climate for peace talks to end the Vietnam war as quickly as possible.

[paragraph redacted]



Two days after the Riverside Church speech, FBI officials prepare to circulate a memo to the White House and top administration officials. The memo will, once again, describe King as a communist by pointing out the alleged similarities between King's speech and "Hanoi's demands." Hoover's "OK" is at the bottom of the first page. Attached to the memo was the text of King's speech.

Memorandum

To: Mr. Sullivan
FROM: C.D. Brennan

Subject: MARTIN LUTHER King Jr.
SECURITY MATTER - C

DATE April 6, 1967

Attached for your approval for dissemination are copies of a letterhead memorandum containing the following:

On April 4, 1967, Martin Luther King Jr.,
President, and Andrew Young, Executive Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spent eight hours in conference with King's top advisers in New York. Persons present included Stanley Levinson, a long time secret Communist Party member, and Harry Wachtel, a former member of the National Lawyers Guild, a cited Communist Party front. Later the same day, King gave a speech in New York attacking United States Vietnam policy. His proposed five steps for ending the Vietnam War according to news sources are similar to Hanoi' s demands. They also parallel the Communist Party line.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

That copies of the enclosures be forwarded by routing slips to Mrs. Mildred Stegall, the White House; Honorable Dean Rusk, The Secretary of State; Honorable Robert S. McNamara, The Secretary of Defense; The Attorney General; and Assistant Attorneys General Yeagley and Doar.

100-106670
1 - Bufile 100-438794 (Southern Chritian Leadership Conference:

MARTIN LUTHER King Jr.

The following information has been supplied by confidential sources of this Bureau who have furnished reliable information in the past.

Martin Luther King Jr., President, and Andrew Young, Executive Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spent approximately eight hours in conference with King's top advisors in New York City on April 4, 1967. Two of the advisors present were Stanley Levison, a long-time communist whose secret membership in the Communist Party, USA, has been established as of July, 1963, and Harry Wachtel, a former member of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization which has been designated as a communist front by the Committee on Un-American Activities, United States House of Representatives.

Later on the same day, King spoke at the Riverside Church, New York, New York, at which time he was highly critical of the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. He proposed a five-step process to extricate the United States from this conflict. Comments in the news media coverage of King's remarks pointed out that the five points are similar in concept to the conditions imposed by Hanoi as a prerequisite to negotiations. It is also noted that King's proposals parallel the propaganda line which the Communist Party, USA, has been projecting regarding the war in Vietnam.

[paragraph redacted]

[paragraph redacted]

Martin Luther King Jr.

NOTE:
See C.D. Brennan to W.C. Sullivan memorandum dated 4/6/67, same caption, prepared by DMW: deh.

Classified ""Secret"" inasmuch as the source for the above situation is a higly sensitive source relating to the racial situation, and whose identity if revealed could cause serious damage to the national defense.



An April 10, 1967 memo reports on a wiretapped conference call between King advisers Stanley Levison and Harry Wachtel. The memo highlights critical comments they made about King's Riverside speech. Wachtel was a prominent New York lawyer. Other FBI internal documents identify Wachtel as a "former member of the National Lawyers Guild…a communist front."

Communist infiltration of Racial Matters Internal Security - C

On April 6, 1967, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised that Stanley Levison and Harry Wachtel, New York advisors to Martin Luther King Jr., were in conference concerning King's speech at Riverside Church, New York City, on April 4, 1967.

Wachtel thought the text of King's speech was solid and wants it printed for distribution. Levison felt the speech was too advanced for many Negroes and that it did not constitute the widest appeal. King, Levison feels, should not have spoken from the point of view of a Vietcong peasant.

It was Levison's belief that Andrew Young, Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), wrote King's speech, but Wachtel believes that "guy at Spellman" (Spelman College, Atlanta) wrote it. Wachtel felt the section of the speech about this country acting like Germany acted in the last war offended many people. Levison agreed, and commented King should realize he is dealing with the State Department and the Pentagon and not some stupid sheriff, and that if he did get people to stand on bridges in Vietnam, they would not be bombed, but instead there would be an invasion of North Vietnam, which King would be responsible for.

With regard to King's scheduled appearance before the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam on April 15, 1967, Levison is unenthusiastic, since he does not feel that King can capture that audience.

[sentence redacted]

This document contains neither recommendations nor conclusions of the FBI. It is the property of the FBI and is loaned to your agency; it and its contents are not to be distributed outside your agency.

Communist Infiltration of
Racial Matters

According to Levison, Bennet (Dr. John Bennet, President of Union Theological Seminary, New York City) and Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr (Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary) have talked about getting ten thousand young men and their parents to go to Washington to turn in their draft cards. Levison felt they would violate the law if they do this.

Finally, Wachtel mentioned that King will meet with Rockefeller (Governor Nelson Rockefeller, New York) on April 22 or 24, 1967 to discuss the Vietnam position of King.

Levison and Joan Daves (Publishers' Representative) were also in contact on April 6, 1967, during which Levison revealed that King will change his emphasis from peace to the Chicago Action Campaign after the middle of April. Levison also disclosed that a meeting dealing with tactics will be held in Atlanta in the near future.



This April 11, 1967 memo describes FBI eavesdropping on conversations between King and his advisers, Stanley Levison and Harry Wachtel, regarding the Riverside speech.

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

New York, New York
April 11, 1967

Martin Luther King Jr.
Security Matter - C

Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Internal Security - C

On April 8, 1967, a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, advised that Harry Wachtel and Stanley Levison, New York advisors to Martin Luther King Jr., were in conference concerning King's position on Vietnam. Levison felt that a question and answer pamphlet taken from King's speeches is needed in order to clarify King's position and to give a cohesive logical exposition of this position.

This source advised on April 8, 1967, that Levison and King were in contact on that date. Levison indicated that King's speech of April 4, 1967 was not good in that it attempted to cover too much ground, was not well thought out, was unbalanced and that it would not appeal to the average person. King answered that although he did not write the speech, he concurred with it and did not believe that he would change it, even now that he had been criticized for it by the "New York Times" and "Washington Post". King feels that he had a duty to make the speech in order to fulfill his role as a ""morally wise man"".

Levison suggested a full page advertisement in the "New York Times", Sunday edition, in order to clarify King's position and to answer King's enemies and critics. King felt that this was an excellent idea.

This document contains neither recommendations nor conculsions of the FBI. It is the property of the FBI and is loned to your agency; it and its contents are not to be distributed outside your agency.

Martin Luther King Jr.;
Communist Infiltration of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

On April 9, 1967, this source advised that Harry Wachtel and Stanley Levison were in contact concerning Martin Luther King's speech to be delivered April 15, 1967, in New York City. This speech will combine both King's speech in Los Angeles and his speech of April 4, 1976 at New York City and will be written by Wachtel and Levison on Monday, April 10, 1967.

This source advised that Wachtel, Levison and King were in conference on April 9, 1967, concerning King's position on the Vietnam situation. All agreed to the issuance of a question and answer pamphlet entitled "Dr. King Speaks on the War in Vietnam" or something similar. In addition, a full page advertisement will be run in the "New York Times". These will make the points that King does not consider this a racist war and that civil rights gains can be made while this war is going on.

Wachtel asked King if he would like to be chairman or co-chairman of a group called Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam". King stated he would be delighted even though he may not be able to donate full time to th organization. Wachtel and Levison also urged King to contemplate seeking an audience with the Pope. Toward this end, Levison urged King to begin corresponding with the Pope. King inquired as to whether it would be advisable for him to introduce Cassius Clay at the rally on April 15, 1967. Levison stated that this would not be a good idea and counseled against it.

Harry Wachtel is the Executive Vice President of the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, New York, New York.

[Paragraph redacted]

A characterization of the National Lawyers Guild is attached hereto.

[Paragraph redacted]

[Paragraph redacted]

With respect to the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, it is to be noted that this organization is an adjunct of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), of which Martin Luther King Jr. is the preseident, and serves to raise funds for the SCLC.



An April 14, 1967 memo describes an FBI proposal to brief New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller on the alleged Communist Party influence on King. Rockefeller was a longstanding supporter of civil rights and of King. The memo notes an unsuccessful FBI attempt in 1964 to sour Rockefeller's relationship with King.

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
Memorandum

TO: Mr. W. C. Sullivan
FROM: C. D. Brennan
DATE: April 14, 1967
SUBJECT: MARTIN LUTHER KING, KR.
SECURITY MATTER - C

PURPOSE

The purpose of this memorandum is to recommend that either Assistant to the Director DeLoach or Assistant Director Sullivan be approved to personally contact and brief Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York concerning the communist influence on Martin Luther King, inasmuch as King is to meet shortly with Governor Rockefeller and King's communist advisors hope to take advantage of the forthcoming meeting to influence events in Latin America along communist lines.

BACKGROUND

Last week, through [word redacted] we learned that Stanley Levison, the concealed communist who is Martin Luther King's chief advisor, was in contact with an associate to whom he disclosed that he had recently talked to Rockefeller. This apparently is Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York because Levison said the discussion concerned Venezuelan iron ore deposits about which Rockefeller enterprises are negotiating with the Venezuelan Government.

Levison also told his associate that Rockefeller was disturbed about Martin Luther King's position on Vietnam and wanted to meet King to discuss it. Levison told his contact this pleased him because it would give King the opportunity to present to Rockefeller King's views on Latin America which he feels has the potential of becoming the next Vietnam. According to Levison, King wanted to use the opportunity to advise Rockefeller on the steps that should be taken in Latin America supposedly to avoid this.

SEE ADDENDUM PAGE THREE
CONTINUED -- OVER

Memorandum to Mr. W. C. Sullivan
Re: MARTIN LUTHER King Jr.

The following day, April 6, 1967, the same source advised that Levison was contacted by Harry Wachtel about King's meeting with Rockefeller. As you know, Wachtel is King's other close advisor and Wachtel also has had past communist affiliations. Wachtel told Levison that arrangements had been made to have Martin Luther King meet Rockefeller on either April 22 or April 24, 1967.

OBSERVATION

Martin Luther King has clearly become merely a puppet in the hands of Levison and Wachtel. He relies on both these individuals more than anyone else and they currently are directing most of his activities and shaping most of his public speeches in a way that goes straight down the communist line. These two men have guided King to a position whereby they are attempting to make him not only the acknowledged leader of 22 million Negroes, but now the accepted leader of the vast anti-war effort in the country. Tomorrow, for example, King will play the most prominent role as the spokesman for the peace protesters in the demonstration in New York City. His recent vicious condemnation of the United States in a public speech shows how much of a communist puppet he has become and illustrates the danger he represents in the hands of the scheming communists.

Now Wachtel and Levison see an opportunity to project the communist line further into Latin American activities through King by attempting to have King influence Rockefeller in his thinking. The danger in this is that Rockefeller, through his vast Latin American holdings, is very influential in Latin American affairs, and if he buys any of King's ideas they will definitely represent the communist ideas of Levison and Wachtel.

On the surface Wachtel is a partner in the law firm of Rubin, Wachtel, Baum and Levine, 598 Madison Avenue, New York, New York, a very large and influential law firm. Levison on the surface is the owner and operator of the Park Management Realty Company, 1841 Broadway, New York, New York. Both of their past communist affiliations have been well concealed and today neither of them ostensibly have any connection with the Communist Party; nevertheless, from our experience they represent two of the most dedicated and dangerous communists in the country.

CONTINUED -- OVER

Memorandum to Mr. W. C. Sullivan
Re: MARTIN LUTHER King Jr.

Once previously, in December, 1964, King had occasion to have dealings with Governor Rockefeller and we arranged to have Rockefeller briefed by former Special Agent [words redacted] concerning Levison’s influence on King and [words redacted]. Either [word redacted] did not make much of an impression or Rockefeller chose for reason of political expediency to ignore it inasmuch as we learned in October 1965 that Rockefeller gave King a $25,000 donation, spoke in King’s church in Atlanta, and had dinner with King’s father and his family.

Despite this, the stakes are too high in what is involved in the current forthcoming meeting with King and Rockefeller for us to not do something to prevent the communists from influencing Rockefeller through King. It is believed that we should again make an effort to brief Rockefeller, not only about King, but also in regard to the backgrounds of Levison and Wachtel and that this time it should be done personally through either Mr. DeLoach or Mr. Sullivan, either of whom could handle this discreetly, prudently, tactfully and in a manner which would insure that the FBI’s interest would be completely protected and assured.

RECOMMENDATION

That the Director designate either Assistant to the Director DeLoach or Assistant Director Sullivan to handle this as outlined above.

ADDENDUM: 4/14/67 - WCS chs:

We should not ignore this situation. The stakes are too high. I think Mr. De Loach is the logical selection to handle this assignment. If it is not to be done indirectly, it should be done through a second person who has great influence with Rockefeller.


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