COINTELPRO is short for Counterintelligence Program. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began this program in 1956 to target communist party members in the U.S. In the 1960s, it was expanded to target Black organizations and individuals in particular to ostensibly prevent the rise of a Black messiah who could ignite the Black masses to rise up against the US government. The program unleashed agents who would infiltrate organizations to foster dissension and use agent provocateurs to incite violence. This was a common practice that the FBI used in cahoots with local police to dismantle the Black Panther party and assassinate Black leaders.

Fifty years ago in August 1967, the FBI created a COINTELPRO against ‘‘Black Nationalist–Hate Groups,’’ which targeted the Southern Leadership Conference (SCLC), Dr. Martin Luther King, and other civil rights leaders. The pattern and practice of the U.S. government targeting Black people fighting for justice has not fundamentally changed in over a half century.

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