J. Edgar Hoover, the deceased and despised director of the FBI who is considered the very personification of evil by civil rights-era activists, was said have had two obsessions during his 47-year reign: One, that he harbored a hell-inspired hatred for homosexuals. And two, that Hoover was pathologically possessed in his desire to destroy every progressive black leader and organization in America.
How ironic it is now that he is alleged to have been both gay and a black man who passed as a Caucasian? Famed director Clint Eastwood helped bring the late, legendary figure back into the national conversation with the controversial feature film, J. Edgar. Eastwood more than casually suggested in the film that Hoover carried on a long-term homosexual affair with No. 2 man Clyde Tolson while, according to many books, he simultaneously crippled the careers of many prominent figures he suspected was gay.
Eastwood, however, did not broach the subject of Hoover’s alleged ethnicity, despite the plethora of information surging through cyberspace. But plenty of black historians certainly did.
“Edgar Hoover was a black man passing for white,” Millie McGhee, an African American historian living in metro Washington, D.C., told The Washington Post. She has written two books on Hoover, Secrets Uncovered: J.Edgar Hoover-The Relative and Secrets Uncovered : J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White?
McGhee said that Hoover’s racial composition was a topic that was never to be spoken openly back in the day. “In the late 1950s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Miss. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family. My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”
Recent history has taught us that, oftentimes, a person relentless obsession with a particular social issue may have deeper, personal connotations. Several nationally-prominent ministers’ campaigns against homosexuality — and what was later uncovered about those ministers — immediately comes to mind.
Another writer, Gore Vidal, who grew up in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s, also chimes in about Hoover’s partial blackness: “It was always said in my family and around the city that Hoover was mulatto. And that he came from a family that passed.”
Hoover, of course, is the scourge of Baby Boomer black America because he is seen as the singular force hellbent on destroying every black leader to “prevent the rise of a black messiah who could unify the black masses” before and during the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.
Many openly believe that Hoover’s FBI [at the very least] helped cultivate, nurture and encourage a toxic environment that led to the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, as well as the destruction of organizations such as Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association in the 1920 and the Black Panther Party in the 1970s. These sentiments were only heightened through explosive books like The FBI and Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X: The FBI Files that detailed the agency’s unchecked pattern of illegal activities including spying, room-bugging, wire-tapping, installing stoolpigeons, inciting internal conflicts and encouraging violence among organizations that caused them to implode or diminish in national scope and influence.