After receiving his LL.M., John Edgar Hoover decided to pursue a career in law. At the age of 22, he was hired by the Justice Department to serve in the War Emergency Division of the Justice Department.
In 1919, he transferred from the Alien Enemy Bureau of the Division to the Bureau of Investigation’s new General Intelligence Division.
Hoover ascended through the ranks of the Bureau of Investigation to become deputy director in 1921, and the Attorney General appointed him interim director in 1924. President Calvin Coolidge named Hoover the fifth Director of the Bureau of Investigation on May 10, 1924.
He was a key figure in the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1935, and he served as its director for another 37 years, until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.
“Later in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his covert abuses of power began to surface, and he was credited with growing the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency and bringing it up to speed with technology. He was revealed to have utilized the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, build secret files on political leaders, and collect evidence using illegal means, all while exceeding the FBI’s jurisdiction.
As a result, Hoover accumulated a significant degree of authority and was able to coerce and threaten others, including sitting US presidents.”
Black nationalists felt the brunt of Hoover’s hatred the most.
Hoover was a young, ambitious, and dishonest lawyer. One of his first goals was to demolish Marcus Garvey’s mass revolutionary Pan-Africanist movement. He was the architect of a strategy that included disruption, surveillance, and the use of the law to dismantle legitimate social protest movements.
Hoover put black radical movements under surveillance, according to historian Robert Hill, and he was the point man for monitoring and amassing massive file systems on noteworthy persons and organizations.
Marcus Garvey, who was living in the United States as the leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association Organization, was one of his first cases. Garvey will be deported from the United States in 1927 as a result of his hounding.
Hill claimed, “It was partly psychological, partly societal, and partly because of his weird sense of morality,” that he had a “partial thing” in following black leaders.
By the 1960s, Hoover had destabilized various civil rights organizations with his Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
From Garvey to Martin Luther King, Jr., and from any black organization, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, the FBI used its surveillance resources on them, according to historian Kwaku Parson-Lynn.
“Martin, Stokely Carmichael, Robert J. Brown, and Angela Davis were all receiving a lot of journalistic attention. Their influence was spreading among white teenagers. According to Hoover, this psychological impact was dangerous,” Parson-Lynn stated.
COINTELPRO, the FBI’s counterintelligence program, will have a significant impact on the Black Power Movement, particularly among the younger members of the Black Panther Party.
Every chapter, according to Sam Anderson, will have at least one informant and provocateur in the organization to stir and confuse.
According to legend, the FBI split the Panther Party on the East and West coasts by writing and sending unpleasant letters purportedly from within to party leaders on both sides.
While white America views Hoover in high regard, he has had a negative impact on black leaders and progressive black groups. He used state-sponsored terrorism to eliminate civil rights and liberties.