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J. Edgar Hoover’s decades-long war on Black America

Lee A. Daniels | 2/12/2014, 7:06 p.m.
By the early 1970s, Black Americans could reasonably say they had emerged victorious from their long struggle with America’s internal ...
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

Another ironic facet of the story of the Media Burglary is that the FBI, which boasted of being the greatest law-enforcement agency in the world, never did identify, much less arrest these otherwise law-abiding citizens, even though most of them for years continued to live in the Greater Philadelphia area.

Betty Medsger’s The Burglary offers many powerful lessons worth studying any time of the year but especially for Black History Month. For one thing, it rebukes those who contend Black Americans’ history no longer needs any special attention because we already know everything about it – as well as those who disparage Black Studies as nothing but the study of “victimization.”

On the one hand, The Burglary tells us that we have yet to learn the full story of the multiple layers of national as well as state and local governmental power that were arrayed against Black Americans in their quest for full citizenship even after the civil rights acts of the 1960s were enacted.

But we also shouldn’t ignore one of the things that fact underscores: Despite the most far-reaching and vicious efforts of the hydra-headed White racist power structure, Black Americans and their allies among other Americans nonetheless broke the regime of legalized and de facto apartheid J. Edgar Hoover through his “secret FBI” helped maintain.

In other words, they were, as preceding generations had been, true to the spirit of the words penned by the 20th century writer and poet Sterling Brown: “The strong men … coming on/ The strong men gittin’ stronger./ Strong men …/ Stronger …”

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.