January 1968. After seeing folksinger Joan Baez in Californias Santa Rita jail, King looked anything but hopeful when he and Andy Young next visited Ira Sandperl, Joans partner in antiwar protest, on the mens side. The depression King had cloaked visiting his very dear friend Baez flared up full force. Sandperl, longtime nonviolent activist, had never before seen his friend less than fully composed. Something was wrong.
You guys, whats the matter? he asked with his trademark chuckle. Im the one who should be feeling lousy. What are you upset about? King peered around the visiting cell as if afraid he would be locked in. In fact it was his last time behind bars.
King said he really felt awful, Sandperl remembered. He was mad at himself and guilt-stricken. He said that recently there were black hate groups that were both phoning him and writing him, threatening his life.
I shouldnt feel any different, he confessed, than he did about white groups who had been plotting to kill him for eleven years. I do feel differently, he said plaintively to his friend. I am really annoyed at myself. I cant believe that these black groups are people who really want my death. After all of his years of battling white racism, it had come to this: black people mattered to him more than white. But this man who walked every extra mile to preserve black unity, who had fought so hard against hate, can be forgiven for being mortified by the thought that some blacks hated his guts. And for being afraid that, like Malcolm, like Gandhi, he might be slain by one of his own. A black woman had come close in 1958, slipping in a knife a hair from his heart.
Struggling to maintain his equilibrium in these dark days, he could have been spared this unnecessary heartache. These death threats did not come from black liberation groups. They were all fabricated by the FBI. J. Edgar Hoovers men were hell-bent on torturing his soul. [377-78]
We were operating an intensive vendetta against Dr. King in an effort to destroy him, former Atlanta FBI agent Arthur Murtagh testified to the Senate Select Committee on Assassinations.