In a shocking (but not surprising) report by Rolling Stone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation collected information about Aretha Franklin using false phone calls, surveillance, infiltration, and staged sources for a whole 40 years.
The investigation took place from 1967 to 2007 under the premise that Aretha was tied to “Black extremists” during her time in the civil rights movement.
The extensive 270-page report conveys the FBI’s previous views on the late Queen of Soul. Words like “Black extremists,” “pro-communist,” “hate America,” “radical,” “racial violence,” and “militant Black power” were used to raise the FBI’s suspicion of her and many other activists and entertainers that hung around other Black people. Some documents are heavily redacted and others indicate that there may be additional materials in the FBI’s possession.
Aretha Franklin’s son, Kecalf Franklin, told Rolling Stone, “I’m not really sure if my mother was aware that she was being targeted by the FBI and followed. I do know that she had absolutely nothing to hide though. It does make me feel a certain way knowing the FBI had her targeted and wanted to know her every move, but at the same time knowing my mother and the way she ran her business I know she had nothing to hide so they wouldn’t have found anything and were wasting their time. As you see…they found nothing at all.”
Among some newly declassified documents obtained, is a 1968 document discussing funeral plans for Martin Luther King Jr., calling it a “racial situation.” It further notes “Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin…of this group, some have supported militant Black power concept…[performance at MLK memorial by these prominent entertainers] would provide emotional spark which could ignite racial disturbance in this area.”
In 1974 Aretha Franklin received a letter from an anonymous source threatening of hurting her and her father.
Five years later, C.L. Franklin sustained stable condition after getting shot in Detroit. She received another letter from an anonymous source detailing that they’ll try to kill her and her family. There were many more attempts to rattle Aretha Franklin in her lifetime, including extortion, disturbances and constant harassment. Surely the 40-year investigation has that all detailed.