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Hoover Says Communists Use Civil Rights Movement to Gain Influence

Apr. 21, 1964 - J. Edgar Hoover believes that “Communist influence does exist in the Negro movement” and can influence “large masses” of people.

The FBI director made this statement to a House Appropriations subcommittee Jan. 29. The testimony was made public today.

“The party is continually searching for new avenues in order to expand its influence among the Negroes,” Mr. Hoover said. “In particular, it has sought ways and means to exploit the militant force of the Negro civil rights movement.”

“We do know that Communist influence does exist in the Negro movement,” he continued, “and it is this influence which is vitally important. It can be the means through which large masses are caused to lose perspective on the issues involved and, without realizing it, succumb to the party’s propaganda lures.”

Mr. Hoover’s comments could well be drawn into the current civil rights debate. Some Southern opponents of the pending legislation have repeatedly charged that the Negro rights movement is Communist-inspired.

In the testimony, Mr. Hoover said, however, that Communists attempted to exploit “what are often legitimate Negro complains and grievances.”

He said: “Racial incidents are magnified and dramatized by Communists in an effort to generate racial tensions. As a result, such campaigns are actually utilized as a stepping stone to extend Communist influence among the Negroes.”

Communists try to make propaganda abroad, Mr. Hoover said, by propagating “the idea that this country is against equal rights for all races.”

Mr. Hoover said, “The number of Communist party recruits which may be attracted from the large Negro racial group in this nation is not the important thing. The old Communist principle still holds: ‘Communism must be built with non-Communist hands.’”

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