The (CIA) and (FBI) Role in the civil right movements

The Role of The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the civil right movements


In the past 50 years, the civil rights movements have changed the USA as compared to any other social movement. The social movement for African-American civil rights is one of the most celebrated and studied social experiences of the 20th C. One factor in elucidation this social movement’s successes, is usually attributed to little or explicit attention by civil rights society which has never been explained adequately.

One feature of the Civil Rights movement has been assumed and neglected in the conservative history of the civil rights movement. That is the connection between the civil rights movement and the cold war. For the USA to achieve success during the cold war, civil right was nothing less than a necessity.   In what may be the best ever analysis of this issue and how the international intervention affected the domestic issue at the time, Many scholars interpret the postwar civil rights movement as a cold war feature.

They argue that the civil rights movement was the root cause for many key social reforms, together with desegregation. Civil rights groups gained a marvelous advantage as the US government wanted to polish its image internationally.  Even though Civil rights societies gained mileage in their quest for democracy, they underwent serious opposition from the FBI and other agents. The director of the FBI then, J. Edgar Hoover, was given the go-ahead to pursue civil rights based on the argument that communists were imitating the civil rights societies to overthrow the government. The CIA also played a key figure and hence the determination of the outcome of the Cold War.

Even though the cold war is over, race still remains a significant feature in the world of politics. As the current events remind us, many look to be loosely tied to the destiny of the US democracy and the way the United States is seen by the divided and diverse world. In understanding the entire process and the issue at stake, the individual role and the inferences for human rights, Cold War Civil Rights will present great assistance.  This provides a deeper insight into the role played by the CIA during the Cold War and that played by the FBI during the Civil Rights movement.


The mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is to protect and defend the citizens of the USA against terrorists and other threats from foreign sources. The FBI has a wide scope, covering investigations into both domestic and international terrorists, cybercrime, foreign counterintelligence, civil rights violations, public corruption, organized and white-collar crimes, kidnapping, and violent crime and other diverse crimes. Until 1962, the FBI would monitor Martin Luther King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) accusing them of racial utterances.

These prompted the bureau to collect “all relevant information” regarding the proposed or actual activities of organizations and individuals in the racial field. The recounting story of the civil rights protest era and the headship role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most shameful chapter in the history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation spying and manipulation.

With the expansion and growth in the Civil rights movement, the Bureau identified each and every group and sprouting leader for intensive investigation and the majority for disruption and harassment, the Bureau’s domestic description of CIA secret action abroad. The main subject of the COMINFIL investigation was the NAACP. The SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE (Congress of Racial Equity) were listed and branded by the Bureau as “Black-Hate” organizations and chosen to the covert commotion of their political activities.

However, the most severe FBI attack was on King Jr. and the SCLC. All of the lawless tactics and arbitrary power that had been accumulated by FBI over a number of years were aimed to destroy King’s character and the entire Civil Right movements.

The Bureau mainly relied on indistinguishable authority to spy on King and the entire Civil rights societies. The vague authorities were to conduct microphonic surveillance and warrantless wiretapping to bug him. In October 1963, the then director of FBI, Hoover, received and approved a joint COMINFIL-COINTELPRO plan that aimed at ganging against the civil rights groups. This plan recommended every means to investigate the Civil Rights groups even if it means imaginative and aggressive tactics. After the assassination of John Kennedy, the Civil rights group, led by King Jr., became more vocal and described John Kennedy’s assassination as a tragedy.

This did not go well with the FBI thereby prompting them to hold a conference and discus of how they are going to King and civil right movement. They agreed to use all the “available and necessary investigative techniques” to harm King’s reputation. Even though public scandal was averted at the last moment, this improper tactics by the FBI towards Civil Right group continues. These attempts to destroy Civil rights societies continued even after the death of King. It is evident that the FBI was not concerned with Soviet or criminal activities, or rather its main concern was with the personal and political activities of a movement that was very committed to democracy and non-violence.


The Central Intelligence Agency is a sovereign civilian intelligence agency of the USA government. Its main role is to give a detailed assessment of national security intelligence to the US senior policymakers. The CIA was involved in numerous coups and cold wars particularly if a government led towards communism. However, not all the governments that the CIA was involved in overthrowing practiced communism but rather, they lead cold wars against suspected communists sympathizers.

This explains why the US government through the CIA tried very much to get Fidel Castro out of power after realizing he was for communism. Additionally, during the Viet Nam war, the CIA could do things that the military could not do including interrogating prisoners. CIA played a very significant role in counter-espionage ever, but the focus fell on the control of the CIA once the cold war began. The CIA played a great role in shaping the USA during and after the cold war. During the cold war, the operations linked to overthrowing the foreign governments were left to the CIA as opposed to overt use of military force. The main aim of overthrowing governments during the cold war era was for the US to maintain its dominance of the status quo and to preach the “gospel” of the capitalist.


The FBI and the CIA are two very vital organs in the US security sector. The mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is to protect and defend the citizens of the USA against terrorists and other threats from foreign sources. The CIA is concerned with the intelligence of the country which it presents top policymakers in the USA. Even though these two security organs are concerned with protecting the US citizens, these organs had their dark histories where they violated the rights of US citizens and even foreign citizens. FBI violated the rights of Civil Societies during the Civil Rights era while the CIA was involved in overthrowing foreign governments during the cold war era. This shows how organs that are supposed to protect human rights can be abused and in turn, violates the same right it was supposed to protect. However, it is worth noting that these security organs have undergone reforms such that they perform their duties diligently.



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