This week on From the Vault, we proudly feature a recently discovered and previously unknown recording of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The recording has been verified as the only known recording of the 62-minute speech made in London on December 7, 1964, and is thought to be the only known record of a comprehensive public statement by King on apartheid in South Africa.
The speech was recorded at City Temple Hall in central London where King had been invited to speak on South Africa. When King was chosen to receive the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, he went to London on the way to accepting that prize in Oslo, Norway. Speaking to an overflowing audience, he 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. When speaking about South Africa, he read a prepared written statement that called for sanctions to end apartheid.
The recording on tape was made 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.
This recording was discovered in December 2014 by Pacifica Radio Archives Director Brian DeShazor, who, while working on an unrelated project, found this tape contained within unopened boxes of tape reels stored in the Archives’ climate-controlled vault in Los Angeles.