Newly uncovered recording, coupled with existing tape of post-speech Q-and-A, completes full recording of MLK’s 1964 appearance at the university in New York City
Taken from The New School ALUMNI (January/February 2016)
More than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at The New School, the lost recording of his hour-long speech has been found and made available for the public to hear.
The recording of the speech—aired by Amherst College’s student radio station and recorded onto a reel-to-reel tape that was later found and digitized by the school’s archivists—complements an existing recording of the question-and-answer session King gave at The New School immediately following the speech. It is the only known recording of King speaking at The New School.
“The recording of Dr. King’s lecture at The New School was the missing piece,” says New School archivist Wendy Scheir. “The recording of his post-speech Q-and-A was discovered by a New School student in 2011. Now, with the recovery of the lecture itself, the public, after more than half a century, can hear King’s talk at The New School in its entirety. We’re so pleased that our colleagues at Amherst College came upon the recording, which is especially interesting because King made it at such a pivotal moment—mere months before the passage of the Civil Rights Act for which he’d fought so hard.”
Worried that they might damage the recording, the archivists at Amherst couldn’t even listen to the tape to verify that it matched the label until it was digitized and sent back to the university at the end of the year, according to the Boston Globe. Archivists then had the opportunity to listen to the speech, “The Summer of Our Discontent,” in which King discussed economic hardship in black communities, the resistance among political leaders to civil rights legislation, and inequality in public schools.
King’s speech was part of American Race Crisis lecture series, a 15-part lecture series on race in the United States, held at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium in the spring of 1964. The speakers included Charles Abrams, Algernon D. Black, Dan W. Dodson, Milton A. Galamison, Martin Luther King, Jr., Louis Lomax, Joseph Monserrat, Melvin Tumin, Robert C. Weaver, and Roy Wilkins.
Listen to King’s post-speech Q-and-A.
James Dobkowski, the author of
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