Rare recording of King speech in Charleston to be auctioned this week

Rare recording of King speech in Charleston to be auctioned this week
The Martin Luther King Jr. Charleston speech tapes will be auctioned this week (Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Rare audio tapes from a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1967 speech in Charleston will change hands this week when they’re auctioned in New York City.

Back in 2012, the family of a newspaper reporter located in Summerville found a 40-minute audio recording of the speech from that July day.

Laura and Birdie Crosby found the tapes in a box that had been left to them by her father, Eugene B. Sloan, a reporter for The State newspaper in Columbia. The family had never listened to the tapes until 2012, 45 years after King's visit.

According to Guernsey’s auction house, the lot to be auctioned also includes the original Sony tape recorder used to tape the speech, articles of Sloan’s clothing, and the recording of a Ku Klux Klan meeting the night before King’s speech.

A third recording in the lot took place in March 1969 during the Charleston Hospital Workers Strike when Rev. Ralph Abernathy spoke at a rally at the Fourth Baptist Church.

The tapes from the 1967 speech revealed more of King’s comments on riots that had broken out shortly before his visit to the Lowcountry. Of the July 23, 1967, riot in Detroit, he said it was the African-American community who suffered the most because of the destruction.

“So I’m not gonna give you a motto of preach philosophy burn baby burn," King said. “I’m gonna say build baby build, organize baby organize.”

The auction is set for Thursday night in New York City at 7:30 p.m. at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.