In a surprising interview from 1964 that appears in a new book about White House life, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis described Martin Luther King Jr. as "phony" and "tricky," Politico reports.
The commentary can be found in Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, a book that will be published next week.
The 1964 Q&A session includes Mrs. Kennedy's allegation that King mocked the funeral mass of her husband, John F. Kennedy, and its celebrant, Cardinal Richard Cushing.
"He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said he was drunk at it," the former first lady says. "And things about they almost dropped the coffin. I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, 'That man's terrible.' "
The book also reveals that the FBI tapes that captured the married civil rights activist in a hotel room with another woman contributed to Mrs. Kennedy's negative impression of him, but that her own husband (whose infidelity hadn't been exposed yet) urged her not to judge King for his indiscretion.
But additional context suggests that her impression of King was more complicated, and evolving.
"If you asked her what she thought of Martin Luther King overall … she admired him tremendously," her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, told ABC's Diane Sawyer. She also had a theory about the origin of the negative commentary: "Obviously, J. Edgar Hoover had passed on something that Martin Luther King said about my father's funeral to Uncle Bobby and to Mommy. And obviously, she was upset about that," Caroline Kennedy said. "It shows you the poisonous … activities of J. Edgar Hoover."
Jackie Kennedy became friendly with King and his family and attended the civil rights leader's funeral in 1968.
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