Newly released declassified files show Aretha Franklin tracked by the FBI in the 1960s and 70’s

By greatbritton

FBI surveillance files tracking Aretha Franklin’s racial justice activism in the 1960s and ’70s have been unsealed for the first time at the request of a journalist under the Freedom of Information Act. The 270-page document, was uncovered by journalist and Courage News founder Jenn Dize four years after requesting them when Franklin passed away in 2018, “show[s] repeated and disgusting suspicion of the famed Black singer, her work, and activists around her,” according to tweets from Dize’s Twitter account.

The pages are two decades worth of FBI agents’ records of performances, public appearances, telephone calls and more, including records of when Franklin attended a Southern Christian Leadership Conference convention held in 1967 under Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership, according to PEOPLE.

Documents filed during the ‘60s include agents’ alleges that “SCLC leadership has taken a ‘hate America’ and ‘pro-Communist’ line following public comments about China made by Franklin’s father, Clarence “C.L.” Franklin.

After King’s death in 1968, Franklin performed at a memorial for the civil rights leader alongside Sammy Davis Jr. and The Supremes. An event that FBI agents tracked out of suspicion that it “would provide emotional spark which could ignite racial disturbance.” Agents said that the group had “supported militant black power concept,” according to the report.

Additionally recorded in the documents are two death threats the singer received, one over the phone in 1979.

According to PEOPLE, most of the file details exchanges between Franklin’s attorneys and the FBI in 2005 when the singer’s legal team were going through a copyright infringement lawsuit against a bootleg CD and DVD scheme operating through a Yahoo message board.

Franklin known as the “Queen of Soul,” passed away from pancreatic cancer at her Detroit home on Aug. 16, 2018. Dize tweeted last week that she would be following up with “all involved parties” and estates for publication in a follow-up report.


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