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Pacifica Radio Archives recovers “lost” Martin Luther King Jr. speech

Pacifica Radio ArchivesDemocracy Now! today ran audio of a largely forgotten speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., released and curated by the Pacifica Radio Archives. Just days before receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, King spoke in London, offering a detailed overview of the history of the civil rights movement in the United States and linking its efforts to the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. It was December 7, 1964. Journalist Saul Bernstein, then European reporter for Pacifica Radio, recorded the address. The tape was recently discovered by the director of the Pacifica Archives, Brian DeShazor.

Here is a particularly prophetic portion of King’s remarks, given subsequent events:

“Our responsibility—our responsibility presents us with a unique opportunity: We can join in the one form of nonviolent action that could bring freedom and justice to South Africa, the action which African leaders have appealed for, in a massive movement for economic sanctions. In a world living under the appalling shadow of nuclear weapons, do we not recognize the need to perfect the use of economic pressures? Why is trade regarded by all nations and all ideologies as sacred? Why does our government and your government in Britain refuse to intervene effectively now, as if only when there is a bloodbath in South Africa—or a Korea or a Vietnam—will they recognize a crisis? If the United Kingdom and the United States decided tomorrow morning not to buy South African goods, not to buy South African gold, to put an embargo on oil, if our investors and capitalists would withdraw their support for that racial tyranny that we find there, then apartheid would be brought to an end. Then the majority of South Africans of all races could at last build the shared society they desire.”


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One Response to Pacifica Radio Archives recovers “lost” Martin Luther King Jr. speech

  1. Nalini Lasiewicz January 21, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    I’m glad you put the word LOST in quotes. Truth is, this recording was labelled and sitting in box. The box itself was unopened which is a bit of an embarrassment because it’s been there for over a decade. In 1998, the Pacifica Administrative Council authorized funding to increase the Archives staff and they approved a multi-year project to collect and catalog all the old tapes. Each station was asked to mail tapes to L.A. and the project was supposed to be completed by 2002, according an interview I have on file. Here we are, 14 years past the deadline, now we hear that boxes are still unopened? While I do celebrate this newly released, I sure hope Pacifica will request a full report on the progress of cataloging all our tapes, sooner than later. Who knows what other treasurers we may be missing?

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