A huge trove of previously little-known FBI documents have reportedly exposed the dark traits of Martin Luther King's personality, including his indifference to rape and dozens of extramarital sexual affairs he had while campaigning across the country.
A senior official with the FBI once acknowledged that Martin Luther King was the target of an intensive counterintelligence campaign to "neutralise him as an effective civil rights leader" from late 1963 up until his assassination in April 1968.
As part of that campaign, federal agents bugged rooms at several hotels where King was staying. Officials were afraid that he might have been under the influence of the US Communist Party. This fear partly rested on the fact that King had an adviser who the FBI alleged was a communist.
While the bureau failed to find any evidence that King was a communist himself or was affiliated with the Communist Party, it once attempted to discredit him as well as his family and friends.
David Garrow, a historian who has authored a Pulitzer-winning MLK biography, has studied thousands of documents on the National Archives website and found out that the FBI apparently once managed to dig up some dirt on the renowned activist.
The Sunday Times reports that one unearthed memo, purportedly written by the former head of FBI intelligence William Sullivan, details how King joked to his friends that "he had started the 'International Association for the Advancement of P***y-Eaters'".
According to the FBI account, King had once "looked on, laughed and offered advice" while his friend Logan Kearse, a Baptist minister, raped a woman described as one of his "parishioners".
Kearse and King are said to have "discussed which women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts". The following evening, King and a dozen other persons allegedly took part in a "sex orgy".
It is understood that when one of the women refused to engage in an "unnatural act", King told her that such an act would "help your soul".
FBI officials then sent an incriminating tape and an anonymous letter to King, warning that he was "on the record" and implied that he should commit suicide — something King described as attempts to "harass me" and "break my spirit".
The bureau has also eavesdropped on King's conversations with his wife Coretta. The surveillance efforts have found, Gallow says, that Coretta complained about her husband "not fulfilling his marital responsibilities", to which King replied that "she should go out and have some sexual affairs of her own".
FBI summaries are also said to mention a presumed baby that King fathered in Los Angeles and a threesome orgy with a white prostitute and a black woman he once had at a Las Vegas hotel.
Garrow is expected to publish his findings next month in the monthly British magazine Standpoint.