This was on 18 November 1964. The next week Hoover says that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped to found, is ‘spearheaded by communists and moral degenerates.
For his part, King responds with restraint: ‘I cannot conceive of Mr Hoover making a statement like this without being under extreme pressure. He has apparently faltered under the awesome burdens, complexities and responsibilities of his office; therefore, I cannot engage in a public debate with him. I have nothing but sympathy for this man who has served his country so well.’
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