Judas and the Black Messiah has inspired Tenessee congressman Steve Cohen to reintroduce a bill that would remove J. Edgar Hoover's name from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Cohen has not made contact with the director or cast featured in the movie, but he said that the film lays out Hoover's true intentions.
“The movie is a clear depiction of his efforts to impede the civil rights movement,” Rep. Steve Cohen said.
Hoover is best known for his role as the director of the FBI for eight different U.S. Presidents. While working in this role, Hoover often abused his power to intimidate world leaders, threaten public figures and systemically oppress marginalized groups. Under his leadership, the FBI engaged in tactics such as illegal wiretapping and began the infamous COINTELPRO project. Over the years, Hoover's actions have been reportedly tied to the deaths of Fred Hampton, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. During his time in the FBI, agents were also reportedly ordered to "monitor" Civil Rights figures like Muhammad Ali and Andrew Young.
Most recently, Hoover's name resurfaced in light of a letter that was allegedly left behind by former New York Police Department Officer Ray Wood. In this letter, the former officer wrote that the NYPD and FBI were involved in the assassination of Malcolm X at the Audobon Ballroom in 1965. Wood's family has disputed the veracity of the letter, but X's family has indicated that they are willing to pursue any legal options that may be available to them. Moreover, the NYPD has stated they are willing to investigate any information related to this case that may come up.
Despite Hoover's long list of transgressions, he was spotlighted in a 2011 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and honored by having FBI headquarters named after him. With Congress focused on COVID-19 relief and voting laws, it does not appear that this bill will be up for a vote any time soon. In the meantime, Hoover's name will remain on the FBI building.
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