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According to a recent report from NPR, a file that was declassified by the FBI shows that the federal agency collected information on the late, legendary singer Aretha Franklin for over four decades via surveillance and fake phone calls in their efforts to fin out how deeply the “Respect” singer was involved in the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement and communism.
The document, which was released in early September, shows that between 1967-2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation collected over 270 pages of information with reports from over a dozen states. The Bureau followed Franklin’s activism, specifically hr relationships with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Angela Davis.
A 1968 document discusses funeral plans for Martin Luther King Jr., calling it a “racial situation.” It further states, “Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin…of this group, some have supported militant Black power concept…[performance at MLK memorial by these prominent entertainers] would provide emotional spark which could ignite racial disturbance in this area.”
The reports also says that the document contains three threats on the Grammy Award winner’s life as well as infringements of her music and performances. The FBI’s description of Franklin included phrases such as “Black extremists,” “pro-communist,” “hate America,” “radical,” “racial violence,” and “militant Black power”.
In 1974, the Queen of Soul received a threatening letter, reading, “Dear Aretha…I’m still in charge of you…I’m not to be crossed…you should be…paying me some of my money…evidently your advisors do not know the dangers of neglecting what I’m saying…I would hate to drag [your father] into this.” In 1979, four months after her father was shot in Detroit, she received yet another threat from a man who said he was going to kill her and her family.
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