Was J. Edgar Hoover Black?

In her column at The Root DC, Barbara A. Reynolds explores the possibility that J. Edgar passed for white.

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J. Edgar Hoover (Getty Images)

In her column at The Root DC, author and minister Barbara A. Reynolds explores a rumor that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover passed for white. She interviews author Millie McGhee, who says that her grandfather, a black man, was his second cousin.

Clint Eastwood in his new movie J. Edgar artfully surfaced a well- guarded secret that the FBI czar who reigned over the bureau for 47 years was gay and involved in a long-term relationship with an aide.

Nevertheless there is yet another skeleton pounding on the closet to be let out.

Could J. Edgar Hoover also be African-American?

In some quarters this racial rumor has been whispered about as widely as Hoover’s sexuality. Eastwood’s avoidance of the issue adds intrigue to the movie’s main storyline. As Hoover was digging up dirt on presidents, spying and harassing civil rights leaders, he was cross-dressing and carrying on an affair with Clyde Tolson, the FBI’s number two man.

“Edgar Hoover was a black man passing for white,” says Millie McGhee, an African-American living in Southern Maryland, who has written two books Secrets Uncovered: J.Edgar Hoover-The Relative and Secrets Uncovered : J. Edgar Hoover Passing For White?

McGhee said: “In the late 1950s, I was a young girl growing up in rural McComb, Mississippi. A story had been passed down through several generations that the land we lived on was owned by the Hoover family. My grandfather told me that this powerful man, Edgar, was his second cousin, and was passing for white. If we talked about this, he was so powerful he could have us all killed. I grew up terrified about all this.”

Read Barbara A. Reynold's entire column at The Root DC.

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