New York State Museum Releases Recording of 1962 NYC Speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The New York State Museum released a copy of  the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1962 speech at the Park Sheraton Hotel online today.

The speech, delivered about a year before King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” address, commemorated the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The speech ponders the history of human rights in America, noting that “the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation had fallen far short of achieving equality for all of its citizens.”

The only way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, King said, “is to make its declaration of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when our message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy by deeds as bold and daring as the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.”

The State Museum’s video of the speech features a printed copy of the speech from the state archives, showing numerous handwritten editing marks made by Enoch Squires, the audio engineer who made the recording. The audio comes from a reel-to-reel magnetic tape that allowed for 65 minutes of recording time per side. King only spoke for 26 minutes, but several speakers preceded him. A minute of the speech was lost because Squires had to manually flip each reel over, and re-thread the tape through the tape head assembly and onto the take-up reel.