Skip to content

Jackie Kennedy on Martin Luther King: ‘That Man’s Terrible’, ‘Phony’

Former President John F. Kennedy and wife Jacqueline

Inflammatory statements made by Jacqueline Kennedy about Martin Luther King Jr. after her husband John F. Kennedy’s assassination have been captured in a book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy. Her unedited, candid thoughts for the first time were also spilled onto a series of audio tapings with famed Kennedy biographer Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in 1964

The scintillating tapes will certainly help pull back the covers on the real relationship between the Kennedys and the Kings, which have been romanticized throughout the decades since the three major assassinations in the 1960s (JFK, MLK and Robert F. Kennedy). It also represents ill timing as King is set to have his historic monument on the National Mall dedicated by President Obama and a throng of other dignitaries and celebrities on Oct. 16, 2011.

Martin Luther King and former U.S. attorney general Robert F. Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy seemingly calls into question King’s validity as the main civil rights leader and minister as she referred to him as a “phony”, “tricky”, “a terrible sex pest” and saying “that man is terrible” on tape. One newspaper said that “these interviews will surely be most useful to the sort of historian who has an ear for unreliable narration.” Keep in mind that the woman known as Jackie O also tore into other people, including her husband JFK because of his serial philandering. And she made what could be considered politically-correct statements about Irish people, and can be heard making questionable jokes about lesbians, according to media reports.

Caroline Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy’s lone surviving offspring, attempted to put her late, beloved mother’s words into proper context. She detailed how former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover manipulated the Kennedys and Kings behind the scenes, “trying to incite division between the Kennedys [John and Bobby] and Dr. King.”

Caroline Kennedy included in her report that Hoover told her mother Jackie that King was heard in FBI wiretaps making crude comments about Jackie Kennedy kissing her husband’s coffin during his funeral after his assassination in November 1963.

As historians can attest, there is no question that Hoover had a personal vendetta against King and was completely obsessed with trying to destroy King and other major civil rights leaders. Through illegal wiretaps, room buggings and listening devices, Hoover was able to convince the Kennedys that King was allied with communists. Hoover and his FBI agents unleashed vicious and violent campaigns – much of them illegal, it was later determined — to destroy King, Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, H. Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Marcus Garvey and countless other blacks in order decimate the ranks of their organizations and neutralize their effectiveness.

MLK and former president Jack Kennedy

“King’s crusade depended to some extent on the physical, moral, and financial support of liberal, well-meaning whites, and Hoover and other FBI figures knew that,” says Professor Lewis V. Baldwin, the co-author of Legacy Of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Boundaries of Law, Politics, and Religion. “I am absolutely convinced that Jackie O’s anti-King sentiments resulted from anti-King propaganda on the part of FBI sources. These sources were determined to also destroy King’s connections with the most powerful people in this country,” he says.

“I doubt seriously that King made negative comments about John Kennedy’s funeral,” says Baldwin, who is a professor of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. “This would have been totally out of character for Dr. King.”

Jackie Kennedy’s harsh words, it must be noted, were also in response to listening to secretly recorded tapes that Hoover shared with her about King’s extramarital affairs, which is something of an open secret these days. -terry shropshire


  1. Guest on September 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Marcus Garvey passed away in 1940…

    • Terry on September 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      Mr. Guest … that is correct, Marcus Garvey died in 1940. But that is not my point at all. With being so quick to try to spit out knowledge, you fail to realize that J. Edgar Hoover became the director of the Bureau of Investigation in 1924, during the pinnacle of Garvey’s power and influence. 

      Please read “Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover” and/or “J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and His Secrets”. Both books, which I read, detail how Hoover employed illegal and vicious tricks to destroy Marcus Garvey and the UNIA, which became a testing project to how Hoover would later deal with the likes of Martin, Malcolm, the Black Panthers and many others. 

      So, in the final analysis, Hoover took care of two generations of black freedom fighters. 

  2. Eervin44 on September 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm


    • Terry on September 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Earvin44, the person who brought this up was Jackie Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline. She decided to release the candid tapes on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy presidency in 1961. It is now 2011. 

      Any further questions? 

  3. Robert on September 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Dr King did a lot for civil rights during his lifetime but his cheating and lying about affairs should not be swept under the rug like it has been.  Whenever that part of his life is brought up it is quickly dismissed by those who don’t want that to be part of his legacy.  JFK was also flawed in this area and it too should not be covered up.  Dr King lied and cheated on his wife with a number of women which is truly vile for a supposed religious individual.  This kind of stuff was overlooked during that time in history.  It is still done today if you are a Democrat.  John Edwards proved that.

  4. Patricia Baker on September 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    We are all Clay pidgeons in GOD’S sight. Dead or alive Mrs.Kennedy has a right to her opinions, During the Watts riots she didn’t even know where that was. but I didn’t hear anything about how faithful her husband was.
    Most Civil Rights Leaders were hated in the 60’s but I remember Pt Kennedy contacting MLK tob a Union mediator in the Southern region for Blacks. While she was decorating the White House we were either being blown away with Bull Conners type people,
    Did she forgive her husband is the most important thing in her marriageI always thought she lived in a dream world while havoc was going on in our nation.