‘It took its toll’: the terrible legacy of Martin Luther King’s fight with the FBI

In his new film MLK/FBI, Sam Pollard lays bare the injustices the FBI heaped on the civil rights leader, but paints a picture of a complex man dealing with his personal life and its baggage alongside his political beliefs

As a child in 1960s east Harlem, documentary film-maker Sam Pollard was “profoundly touched” by two events. The assassination of John F Kennedy, in 1963, when Pollard was in junior high school. Then, five years later, the murder of Martin Luther King.

Yet as he grew up, Pollard found his memory of those events softening round the edges. “You think back and try to remember how you reacted to everything going on, particularly the March on Washington, and it all swirls around in your head,” he says. “Some things get lost. You think: ‘Wow, was that really happening?’ It’s history, but not so long ago that I can’t remember it.”

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