J. Edgar Hoover – Government Gang Leader?

November 19th, 2008


Since we first began working on “American Gangster,” the idea of profiling J. Edgar Hoover has been floating around. Using the levers of official power, Hoover made the Federal Bureau of Investigation his personal gang, particularly in pursuing an agenda of White supremacy that began with his role in the deportation of Marcus Garvey, through his snooping on Dr. King’s sex life and his counter-intelligence campaign against the Black Panthers and numerous Black leaders. What we’ve been able to do with this episode is connect the dots to Hoover’s lengthy career as an enemy of Black advancement to show a pattern of behavior with the U.S. government’s top law enforcement agency as his tool.

Henry Shipper, who’s done many of the hardest hitting “American Gangster” episodes, found it wasn’t as hard to indict Hoover as he expected.

“I was really surprised,” Henry says, “when I asked Nicolas Katzenbach [former U.S. attorney general] what the FBI did right during the Civil Rights Movement, he replied, ‘I would have a hard time saying there was anything they did very right.’ I was so startled; I circled around a few minutes later and asked him again. This time, he gave me a bite that’s in the show: ‘It’s very hard to say anything good about the FBI.  I uh, ¬ I don’t think it’s a question of how much good you can say about them.  The question is how much bad you can say about them.’”

Henry’s first draft script was 75 pages, and the show could easily have gone two hours. He says, “The nitty-gritty on MLK was unbelievable, including serious plans by FBI to replace King with their own designated leader. They actually settled on a rising young attorney, Sam Pierce, who would later serve in Reagan’s Cabinet.”

Revelations like this are provided throughout the J. Edgar Hoover episode, making this one of the most profound shows we’ve done in three seasons. With “American Gangster,” we always feel like we are providing a shadow history of the United States and the Black community. No one’s shadow loomed larger and more destructive over us in the 20th century than that of the late director of the FBI.

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James said on November 19th, 2008

Out of all of the criminals you have profiled on American Gangster, which by the way is the best show on Television now a days. Gay I mean J. Edgar Hoover is the most vicious, evil, destructive, hateful man to ever be profiled on your show. Funny thing is I have yet to see the show and I already know that!!!! If there is a hell I hope he is rotting in it unhappily!!!!

pjd said on November 19th, 2008

J. Edgar Hoover was a wonderful, loyal, good, decent American. We were very lucky to have him. The pro Communist sheep villify him because he stopped a lot of their treasonous, hate-America activity. For BET to allow this tirade against Director Hoover is to lie and twist history. How can BET maintain you are anti-slavery when you are pro Communist slavery is beyond reason. God bless J. Edgar Hoover.

Albert Stovall said on November 19th, 2008

J. Edgar Hoover was a redneck who was afraid of any positive black organization who wanted to better their community like Dr. King and Black Panthers and other potential black leaders in the end he shitted on them.

Jan said on November 20th, 2008

How they let this man get away with so much has always astounded me, but its also a sign of the times. America was still very segregated and thsi man not only went after black leaders but also liberal whites. It just seems that he had no regulation. Files on whoever he deemed a threat. The bigger question is a threat to what?

CW said on November 20th, 2008

J. Edgar Hoover was an enemy to African Americans in this country, a white power advocate, and a downlow homosexual. Hoover misused his government postion to further his own agenda and to extort political power, from both blacks and whites. The FBI fought crime in America but it is another side to this coin that BET has shed some historic light to with investigative reporting. If you have not lived during this period or if you have, check the episode and get back with your comment. Depending on who you are and what eyes you are looking thru, you may have been just blind to the power and the tactics of the first Director of the FBI.

jason said on November 20th, 2008

he was also gay…he looked so hard for dirt on other people but hid his own demons…should of come out and been an inspiration for others….

ebele said on November 21st, 2008

Hoover is a motherf…..ker where ever he is 2day i know he sees OBAMA and ope he is roasting in HELL…

DC Jay said on November 21st, 2008

I’m truly blessed to live on this day when J. Edgar Hoover was exposed for just what he was, “a vile, evil, racist and closet deviant” of the lowest scrum on earth perpetrating as a human being. Hoover orchestrated many murders and assaults with the authority of the FBI as his cloak of protection. Hoover was a closet gay and that info was brought out when I was a child growing up in Washington, D.C. during the time he was attempting to destroy the reputation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My father, who died 20 yrs ago, I know on this day, is singing in his grave knowing that the lies have been exposed about Hoover. I know Hoover is burning in HELL because the 44th President of the United States of America is Mr. Barack Obama! Justice does come to those who wait and live long enough. WE AS A PEOPLE MUST REMEMBER AND CONSTANTLY OBSERVE TO PREVENT THIS TYPE OF NEGLIGENCE AND GENOCIDE OF OUR RACE!

jennifer battle said on November 21st, 2008

I just found out not to long ago that Hoover was passing for white. If you have any doubt check out youtube.”Whats Done In The Dark” It was a known fact that his grandparents lived on the segragated side of Washington,D.C. Hoover was a digrace to the human race period….And I pray he is still in hell asking for ice water. What manner of a so called man could order the death of his own race.

thweatt said on November 21st, 2008

Anybody who knows anything about GOD, forgiveness or Heaven and Hell should never wish hell on anyone. YOU, ME WE ALL DESERVE HELL its only Christ thats spared us from it. Don’t wish hell on anyone you may wake up and find yourself in hell. Its just a Terrible thing to say even to hitler or Mousilini or Stallin, Lennon, Or Pol Pot, or anyone. Hell is awful, and I don’t wish it on anyone.

Eric said on November 21st, 2008

In America, there are so many examples of the rights to individual opinion, and expression. The greatest parts of our country! But to have documented accounts of abuse of power, domestic terrorism, and open racism, and still be immortalized on a building? I gave America credit for this past election, after this episode, I realize that we have work to do still. We still honor criminals, and do not honor heroes enough. It’s men and women at Walter Reed that have more substance than this dispicable man!

Shannon said on November 21st, 2008

i wish Hoover could see us now he would really be mad black is were its at and we moving in the whitehouse it going to be greens and kool-aid in there too.

blackinamerica said on November 21st, 2008

America Gangster is a very silly show….Its called black entertainment….and the BET network plays a ignorant show such as America Gangster…i guess that the network think that what entertains black people..showing people sale drugs and gang bang and go to jail is a form of entertainment…NOw this Hoover episode was very silly Obama is trying to get unity and BET runs and racist episode….a episode that has nothing to do with the format of an American Gangster….Why would BET run this Hoover episode….. I feel with this Hoover episode BET is contributing to racism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

soulguru said on November 22nd, 2008

“greens and kool-aid”


Future said on November 23rd, 2008

You all really think COINTELPRO-like programs are over? Wake up people.

Doc said on November 25th, 2008

I wish J. Edgar Hoover was alive to see Obama become president. Wait a minute……. no I’m not. He would launch an assault against Obama to assasinate him if he were alive. What I want to know is what program is the modern day “COINTELPRO?” Can anyone say “Counter Terrorism?”

hali said on November 29th, 2008

i really enjoy watching this show, it gives you a sense of society and how many are heading towards destruction. i wish many will watch this show to reflect on life and what they can do to help other people heading towards the wrong path, rather than watch some scripted reality shows.

paco said on December 2nd, 2008


Tiffani said on December 3rd, 2008

I like American Gangster because it shows not only the glamorous side of drugs and money, but the reality that they all fall. Life in Prison, families getting threatened or murdered, all that stuff is the outcome if you want to walk this path. But Hoover was a sign of the time, to know that he got away with all of that stuff! I read about him in a couple of other books written by former Black Panthers and this dude was something else!! But it’s a different time in America and it seems like it’s starting to come together and all of those people who lost there lives at the hands of Hoover and his goons are smiling down right now!

Mille White said on December 3rd, 2008

I love this show. Im like DAMN all the time schoolin me on the gangstas of back in the day. This episode hit home though cause ppl always think that the goverment is out to get you and he was just proving them right.

Top Notch said on December 4th, 2008

Where the journey to freedom begins!!!

brandon said on December 7th, 2008

how come the only white guy ever on the show turns out to be a enemy of blacks?thats offrnsive and racist as %*~?%?@??

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lamont said on December 8th, 2008

A cross dressing %$*?!! A worthless piece of sh!@ of the 1st degree

DWoods said on December 16th, 2008

Didn’t I see a photo of him with a dress, purse, wig, and those outrageous baseball legs? What a poor excuse for a man.

tiny-tee said on December 16th, 2008

Does he have any money left is so he he available at point in time or still locked up. and if tou are out did you learn your lesson…………..

liz johnson said on December 18th, 2008

i love American Gangster….but I am would like to say that is apart of American history that your are not taught in school. I am from the south and I was truly upset when I saw what he tried to do to Dr. Martin Luther King. When God is always at the forefront of everything, all evil and wrong doing will be exposed. thank you for educating me so I can educate my sons.

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harold said on December 18th, 2008

i think it wasgood 2 hear the truth about the man once and 4 all about who he was a person tryin 2 hold black people back

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gina leigh said on January 15th, 2009

this one I been waiting for…. America the great!!!! what a crock!!!

mona said on January 24th, 2009

Some advise for the makers of American Gangster please look into Rich Alpo and AZ story. Look into Wayne Perry who was a hitman and also an associate of Rayful Edmond and Alberto Martinez (Alpo) This will be a classic and sad American Gangster story.

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