Cultural
6:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

MLK speech from ’62 discovered in state museum archives

As Monday marked the Martin Luther King Day holiday, news came from the State Education Department that the New York State Museum in Albany has discovered an audio recording in its archives of a speech King delivered in the early 1960s.

Part of 1962 MLK speech

This audio recording features a speech King delivered in September of 1962.

On Monday, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and State Education Commissioner John King announced the Museum's new online exhibit. They noted this is the only known recording from of King's speech that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proclamation. 

On a YouTube video, senior historian at the museum Jennifer Lemak explains that the speech was given in New York City.

"This speech almost didn't happen. Dr. Martin Luther King had a previous commitment and Nelson Rockerfeller was not going to take no for an answer," said Lemak.
 
State Museum director Mark Schaming said he speech was discovered on a reel-to-reel audio.

"Donated to us from a family of a local radio man, and the curator pulled out a box that said "Martin Luther King, September 12, 1962," said Schaming. 

The Museum noted this speech had similarities to King's famous 'I have a dream speech' a year later in 1963 for the March on Washington. The Museum's online exhibit is a great teaching tool for those generations never exposed to King's works and fight for civil rights. 

"This is a remarkable treasure,” Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said.  “More than 50 years later, Dr. King’s voice has come back to life. The Board of Regents and the State Museum are honored to present this unique online exhibition to the public. It’s a rare and special opportunity to once more hear the power of Dr. King’s words. Every New Yorker and every American should take the opportunity to listen to this speech.”    

“Martin Luther King used the power of his voice and his words to change the nation,” said Commissioner King. “We’ve exhibited the typewritten text of the speech before, but this audio recording allows us to experience the real power and courage of Dr. King’s speech as he delivered it back in 1962. This is history come to life.”