One month and two days after the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., Martin Luther King Jr., gave a speech at UCLA. But there was no audio recording of the 55-minute address; or so it was thought.
Archivist Derek Bolin and Tim Groeling, chair of the UCLA Department of Communication Studies, found the speech while dubbing analog tapes into a digital format, and released it on Friday, on what would have been King’s 86th birthday.
“In 1965,” said Bolin, “he had a basic stump speech and had gotten very good at giving it, to the point where it became an oratorical tour de force. Listening to his booming voice and confidence, it struck me that the wisdom seeping out of him was something you’d expect from someone in his 60s or 70s. But he was only 36. That was really impressive to me.”
There’ll be a lot more of these sorts of discoveries as archivists transfer history from the crumbling tape that sits in boxes and file cabinets.
Related: What was in John Lewis's backpack in Selma on Bloody Sunday? (GA Voice)