politico.com
Black Writers Were Public Enemy No. 1
F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature (Princeton University Press, 2015)
By William J. Maxwell

The FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover-era surveillance of so-called dissidents—a motley assembly of Soviet sympathizers, anti-war activists and civil rights leaders—has been well documented since the 1970s. But [Claude] McKay was the first, though hardly the last, of one Hoover-tracked subculture that has received less attention: black writers, including some of the most celebrated names in American letters. In the heart of the 20th century, beginning decades before the FBI’s campaign against Martin Luther King Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and, later, the Black Panthers, dozens of allegedly subversive African-American poets, novelists, essayists and playwrights were distinct targets of the agency, whose surveillance of this group was thorough, far-reaching and sometimes ruthless.

The extensive scope of this surveillance is only now coming into focus, thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Building on the detective work of prior researchers who discovered files on the likes of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright […]

Alarmingly, the disclosed files reveal that the FBI prepared preventive arrests of most of the names dropped above, and altogether more than half of the black authors stalked in its archive. Twenty-seven of 51, accused of communism and related extremisms, were caught in the invisible dragnet of the agency’s “Custodial Detention” index and its successors—hot lists of pre-captives “whose presence at liberty in this country in time of war or national emergency,” Hoover resolved in 1939, “would be dangerous to the public peace and the safety of the United States Government.”

COINTELPRO

They won’t teach you this is school, but if you want to be a “woke” ally, one thing you should always read up on is the United State’s COINTELPRO program. 

Last night the PBS The Black Panther: Vanguard of the Revolution documentary touched on it and I thought it was important to talk about. Outside there being a general ignorance about the Black Panther Party, it is also important to know the things the government and police did to WARRANT the creation of The Black Panther Party. 

You should be very angry but very awake once you’re done. Because I want you to WANT to learn about it, I’ll only give you a blurb and a link.

COINTELPRO (a portmanteau derived from COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal,[1][2] projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting and disrupting domestic political organizations.[3]

FBI records show that COINTELPRO resources targeted groups and individuals that the FBI deemed “subversive”,[4] including anti-Vietnam War organizers, members of black civil rights and nationalist liberation organizations (e.g. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party), feminist organizations, anti-colonial movements (such as Puerto Rican independence groups), and a variety of organizations that were part of the broader “New Left”.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover issued directives governing COINTELPRO, ordering FBI agents to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, neutralize or otherwise eliminate” the activities of these movements and their leaders.[5][6] Under Hoover, the agent in charge of COINTELPRO was William C. Sullivan.[7] Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy personally authorized some of these programs.[8] Kennedy would later learn that he also had been a target of FBI surveillance.[citation needed]

Groups that were known to be targets of COINTELPRO operations includec

]The COINTELPRO documents show numerous cases of the FBI’s intentions to prevent and disrupt protests against the Vietnam War. Many techniques were used to accomplish this task. “These included promoting splits among antiwar forces, encouraging red-baiting of socialists, and pushing violent confrontations as an alternative to massive, peaceful demonstrations.” One 1966 COINTELPRO operation tried to redirect the Socialist Workers Party from their pledge of support for the antiwar movement.[37]

  • communist and socialist organizations
  • organizations and individuals associated with the Civil Rights Movement, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, and other civil rights organizations
  • black nationalist groups
  • the Young Lords
  • the American Indian Movement
  • the white supremacist groups
  • the Ku Klux Klan (an ACTUAL terrorist group they should have been focusing on)
  • the National States’ Rights Party (an white nationalist group they should have been focusing on)
  • a broad range of organizations labeled “New Left”, including Students for a Democratic Society and the Weathermen
  • almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, as well as individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation
  • the National Lawyers Guild
  • organizations and individuals associated with the women’s rights movement
  • nationalist groups such as those seeking independence for Puerto Rico, United Ireland, and Cuban exile movements including Orlando Bosch’s Cuban Power and the Cuban Nationalist Movement;
  • and additional notable Americans.[36]

More on COINTELPRO

I sat down with former FBI agent Wes Swearingen, who explained just how far the FBI went to neutralize the black liberation movement, particularly the Black Panthers on the West Coast. He exposed the murder of Bunchy Carter in his interview, explaining how they not only wanted to neutralize Bunchy but to discredit him. In his own words, he said that the FBI originally planned for Bunchy to die in Watts in a drug-deal-gone-bad scenario, but — and these are his words — sometimes informants don’t do what you tell them to do. Instead, on January 17, 1969, Bunchy Carter was killed in Campbell Hall on the campus of UCLA. That revelation was definitely a smoking gun for me. Blacks in America have always been written off as conspiracy theorists, even though some of these things have manifested before our own eyes. But when we try to point some of these things out, they almost mockingly say that our accusations have no credibility, can’t be proved. The murder was not only a smoking gun, but a confirmation that behind the scenes, strings are definitely being pulled.
—  [Bone, “The Bastard Question”]

With school around the corner, this is a reminder to not allow the history textbooks have you go & discredit revolutionary heroes that fought & died for your rights. It’s important to educate yourself & others about COINTELPRO, an FBI government-sponsored series of covert, and often illegal, projects aimed at spying on, infiltrating, discrediting, disrupting & destroying leftist political organizations & leaders they deemed “subversive” including the Black Panther Party, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Civil Rights organizations, the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement, women’s liberation groups, LGBT activists, & anti-Vietnam war organizers.

“COINTELPRO used informants, agent provocateurs, infiltrators, legal and illegal wiretaps, break-ins, false correspondence, and “bad-jacketing,” which was the act of making a legitimate member of a group appear to be a collaborator with the state. Psychological warfare included calling the parents of young civil rights activists to inform them that their children had been murdered or kidnapped. FBI agents worked with journalists to plant stories in order to discredit leadership and organizations. Across the country, the Bureau collaborated with local police to repress targeted groups. Sharing resources & intelligence, activists were arrested, fired from jobs, expelled from schools and lost business contracts. COINTELPRO even used switchboard operators and postal workers to spy on citizens, with or without court order… The effectiveness of COINTELPRO was overwhelming. Many organizations were destabilized with arrests, raids, break-ins, & killings. The most famous raid of the Panthers occurred in December 1969 in Chicago when a 14-man police raiding party killed two Panthers, Fred Hampton &  Mark Clark. Several other Panthers were injured in the pre-dawn attack. Nationally, the Panthers insisted that the FBI and local police were involved in a conspiracy to destroy them. Hoover denied it. The magnitude of these coordinated activities, however, were not known until the 1976 congressional hearings.” -Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar 

‘A Forum: Free All Afrikan POW’s: The Fight Against COINTELPRO’, May 19th Communist Organization, Chicago, 1978. Benefit for National Taskforce on COINTELPRO Litigation and Research featuring Afeni Shakur and Chokwe Lumumba.

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Yesterday, October 15th 2016, was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. 

Established in Oakland, California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the BPP was a Marxist Black liberation organization. They fought against the overt violence of racist cops and the covert brutality of poverty, hunger, and degradation. They established survival programs to do the work the government wouldn’t, worked to oppose American imperialism abroad, published a newspaper, and agitated for their Ten Point Plan which ended “We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace!”

The FBI targeted the Panthers under the COINTELPRO program, subjecting them to surveillance, infiltration, perjury, harassment, smear campaigns, and assassinations. Despite fighting valiantly, the party was dissolved in 1982. 

From left to right: a BPP poster, Bobby Hutton (the first recruit, murdered at 16 by police), Elaine Brown (Party Chair from 1974-1977), Kathleen Cleaver (Party Communications Secretary), Bobby Seale and Huey Newton, and a gathering of the Free Breakfast Program. 

Why Do I harp on COINTELPRO so much?

Because it is DIRECTLY responsible for today’s current state of political apathy among Black youth. During the 1940s, 50s, and 60s even the most “non-political” Black teen played at least some role in ORGANIZED political activity to advance the station and standing of Black people in America. Look at those Black protest photos closely; many of the people you see in them are teenagers.

If you weren’t inclined to support the NAACP you could join the Urban League. If not the UL, then perhaps CORE. If not CORE, then SNCC. If not SNCC then the BPP. If not the BPP then BLA. Or perhaps, like your parents, you were UNIA members. If not the UNIA then the NOI. Or the MST. Or the KOY. Or the SCLC. Or the RNA. Or the AIM. Or the Young Lords

THE FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) disrupted destroyed or totally diluted ALL of the those pro-Black and pro-Brown political organizations, leaving a dearth of uncompromising dedicated field-tested Black leadership in their wake, which most of Black America generally and Black youth in particular suffer from today.

A lack of visionary uncompromising Black leadership. The lack of experience of working VOLUNTARILY with and for OTHER BLACK PEOPLE from different walks of life, on a cause bigger than ourselves and greater than a paycheck. The total foreignness of the concept of a Black unity independent of the politics of either the Democrat or Republican parties.

So many of the ORGANIZATIONS that Black people had created to help them combat white supremacy and Black disunity were destroyed by COINTELPRO.

Where there is no vision… the people perish.