Unknown MLK Jr. Speech Discovered at Pacifica Radio Archives

January 16, 2015


For information contact: Brian DeShazor, Pacifica Radio Archives
818-506-1077 / brian@pacificaradioarchives.org

Pacifica Radio has revealed that its archival department – the Pacifica Radio Archives – discovered a previously unknown recording of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. The recording was discovered last December and has been verified as the only known recording of that 62-minute speech, made in London on December 7, 1964.

The entire speech will be revealed in a broadcast of Democracy Now! at 8:00 EST on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 19, 2015. Throughout the same day, it will also be broadcast by Pacifica stations and Pacifica affiliates.

The speech was delivered in London on December 7, 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. had been invited to speak on South Africa by an inter-faith Group called Christian Action. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize, he combined his trip to Norway, to accept the honor, with a stop in London. At City Temple Hall in London, he addressed an overflowing audience with passion and humor. When speaking about South Africa, he read a prepared written statement that called for sanctions to end apartheid. This recording is thought to be the only known record of a comprehensive public statement by King on apartheid in South Africa.

He also added the topics of the history of slavery, Supreme Court rulings, Greek philosophy, nonviolent resistance, misunderstandings about the doctrine of loving ones’ enemies, the legislative process of desegregation in America, registration of black voters, and ending bigotry throughout the planet.  He spoke without written notes, as is verified by a 1:38 minute audio/video film clip that exists of the event.  https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=dmDc1DBscks

The speech was recorded on reel-to-reel tape by Saul Bernstein, identified as a “Pacifica European Correspondent.” In order to not lose any of the speech while changing tapes, he used a “half-track format” with half of the speech recorded in one direction on half of the tape and the rest of the speech recorded on the other half of the tape going the opposite direction. The entire speech was converted to digital format by the Pacifica Radio Archives staff, who corrected sound distortions.

The recording was discovered by Pacifica Radio Archives’ director Brian DeShazor when he was working on an unrelated project and searched through some unopened boxes of tape reels, stored in the Archives’ climate-controlled vault in Los Angeles. He found a box with “Dr. Martin Luther King London 1965,” written on its lid. Research revealed that the speech was actually made in 1964. DeShazor said “After 15 years of working at the Pacifica Radio Archives, the astonishing discovery of the lost Dr. King tape is truly a proud event in my career. It confirms the important, profound contribution to society and history being made by Pacifica’s independent archive.”

Copies of the speech can be purchased in a package of King speeches at pacificaradioarchives.org.

The Pacifica Radio Archives brings together the recordings of Pacifica Network since 1949. It is considered by historians and scholars to be one of the oldest and most important audio collections in the world. Chronicling the political, cultural and artistic movements of the second half of the 20th century, Pacifica Network radio programs include documentaries, performances, discussions, debates, drama, poetry readings, commentaries and radio arts, including a large collection of speeches by Martin Luther King and other voices from the American Civil Rights era. Pacifica Foundation Radio is a nonprofit Radio Network that initiated the concept of listener-sponsored independent community radio in the United States. It owns five radio stations and has a network of 170 affiliates.

A copy of this newly discovered speech is available for purchase from the Pacifica Radio Archives as part of a special audio collection of Martin Luther King’s speeches. All proceeds go to support the Pacifica Radio Archives. Go to Pacifica Radio Archives or call 818-506-1077 or 800-735-0230.