Although the Civil Rights Movement resulted in many well known changes at an institutional level, it is widely agreed that the movement did not succeed in a total transformation of American society. The dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not fully realized. The exact reasons for this are subject to debate, which often unfortunately devolves into partisan blame shifting between conservatives and liberals. In contemplating this history, little attention is given to one of the most unfortunate reasons that the Civil Rights Movement lost steam – interference and attacks from American intelligence agencies bent on neutralizing what they saw as a force of change that could destabilize society.
Efforts to marginalize and degrade the success of the Civil Rights Movement has played out for many years, but took on an initial intensity during the 1960’s. CIA assets including Gloria Steinem were never far removed from a larger overall process in which black American civil rights leaders were targeted and African American society was disrupted. Agents like Steinem were directly involved with spreading propaganda like a virus during the 60’s and beyond. The effects on the black community in the United States have been so tragically consequential that they could safely be defined as an experiment in population control. An examination of the methods in which the Civil Rights Movement was targeted can teach us much about our history, and even more about what we must vigilantly watch for in the future.
I. Steinem’s History With The CIA
The beginning of Steinem’s history with the CIA is somewhat unclear, although the facts indicate she was recruited either during her university years or immediately afterwards. From 1956 to 1958, Steinem traveled to India as a Chester Bowles Asian Fellow. According to documentation of Steinem’s career, individuals she met with during her time there included Indian Communist Party founder M. N. Roy and a researcher who appeared to have been a CIA agent. Steinem’s “official” association with the CIA began upon her return to the United States in 1959 when she took charge of a front organization called the Independent Research Service where she was tasked with recruiting students to attend Soviet-controlled youth festivals in 1959 and 1962.