By: Christopher Moore, Curator and Special Projects Coordinator, Schomburg Center
J. Edgar, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opens nationwide on November 9, 2011. How will director Eastwood represent Hoover’s obsession with African-American leaders: from Garvey to Gaye?
From Marcus Garvey to Marvin Gaye, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s investigations of African-American culture, leadership and politics were relentless, profound, and in some cases potentially deadly. As a young U.S. Justice Department agent in 1919, Hoover took early and successful aim at Marcus Garvey’s ambitions. Hoover won Garvey’s conviction, deportation, and for himself in 1924, the top job in the new Bureau of Investigation, later named the FBI.
Hoover targets that followed included an astonishing list of African Americans, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Marian Anderson, Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, Elijah Muhammad, Canada Lee, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Dandridge, Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, James Brown, Fred Hampton, Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and Marvin Gaye.
Hoover was the director of the FBI until his death in 1972.