Countless people across the globe celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatness on MLK Day. However, one clip shared on Twitter reminded people that during Dr. King’s last years, he had many denigrators, including some Black Americans.
In addition to his speech railing against the Vietnam War, King paid increased attention to Black Americans’ economic stability near the end of his life. He also called for reparations for Black Americans, something Brown vehemently criticized and categorized as blackmail.
“Well, I say that it is frightening, and it should frightened to the entire American people, that he has demanded $10 billion dollars; and if he doesn’t get it, then there may be riots this summer,” Brown said in a 1968 interview precisely one week before Dr. King was assassinated. “Martin Luther King is nothing but a blackmailer and he should be arrested for blackmailing because he certainly has blackmailed the United States government.”
When asked why she talked “so bitterly” against King and other Black leaders, although she was Black herself, Brown doubled down on her stance.
“Let me tell you something; I don’t put my race before I do my country. Being a negro woman [it] doesn’t matter to me who is a negro or who is a white person. If they are enemies of our country, then they’re certainly my enemies too,” she answered.
During this time, King had begun working fervently on the Poor People’s Campaign and called out the hypocrisy of the U.S. government’s distribution of wealth. This made him even more of a threat to the FBI and others committed to ensuring things remain at the status quo.
As a result, the FBI started the Ghetto Informant Program (GIP) to infiltrate civil rights organizations and spy on the activities of activists. Brown told Ebony Magazine in an extensive 1968 exclusive story that she was one of the FBI’s informants who worked to dismantle the Communist Party’s infiltration of civil rights organizations.
“The FBI expected plenty of you,” Brown told Ebony. “I had to watch and be able to describe and identify people at meetings. I had to listen very carefully to what was said and who said it. I had to look for identifying marks on people I didn’t know. I had to remember their height, age, color of eyes, etc. I was just nervous all the time. I was driven on one hand by the Communists and on the other by the FBI.”
Brown told Ebony she was an FBI spy for eight years and 10 months, but it wasn’t the first time she admitted to her espionage. She’d written and published a book in 1966 titled, “I Testify: My Years As An F.B.I Undercover Agent.”
She said she did the right thing despite her activities being frowned upon by others. Brown insists she wasn’t out to get the NAACP and other Black civil rights organizations that she believed weren’t a front for communism. She also said the Communist Party had duped well-meaning Black leaders into believing they were committed to their agendas, but were really only interested in their own.
Brown said that her espionage took a severe toll on her health and relationships, but she’d do it again if given the chance.
“Some people will look down on me, but as for myself, I will, as I always have, hold my head high and be very proud and grateful that I had the privilege to serve my country as any loyal American should do,” Brown said. “And if I am ever asked or see any reason to serve on my own again, I will proudly do so.”
PHOTOS: Julia Clarice Brown admitted to being an FBI informant and agent. (Screenshot: YouTube / Foggy Melon) / Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Wikimedia Commons)