A long-lost audio recording of a 1962 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been unearthed by the New York State Museum, state officials announced Monday.
The recording, found while museum staff worked on digitizing thousands of audio and video inventory in its collection, has been posted to the museum's website.
"This is a remarkable treasure," state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement. "More than 50 years later, Dr. King's voice has come back to life."
The speech was recorded on Sept. 12, 1962 at the Park-Sheraton Hotel in New York City, where Gov. Nelson Rockefeller had convened his state Civil War Centennial Commission. It was delivered at a dinner celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
The online exhibit includes a manuscript of the speech and the original event program. The audio is the only known recording of the 1962 address, which took place one year before his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
In the 26-minute speech, King spoke of the inequality that African Americans still faced in the 1960s. He discussed the history and importance of the Emancipation Proclamation and its failures to truly free African Americans and create equality.
"The unresolved race question is a pathological infection in our social and political anatomy, which has sickened us throughout our history, and is still today a largely untreated disease," King said. "How has our social health been injured by this condition? The legacy is the impairment of the lives of nearly 20 million of our citizens. Based solely on their color, they have been condemned to a sub-existence, never sharing the fruits of progress equally."
Towards the end of the address, King urges all Americans to "enlist in a crusade finally to make the race question an ugly relic of a dark past."
State Education Commissioner John King said the state had previously displayed the text of the speech, but the audio shows how the civil rights leader "used the power of his voice and his words to change the nation."
"We've exhibited the typewritten text of the speech before, but this audio recording allows us to experience the real power and courage of Dr. King's speech as he delivered it back in 1962," John King said in a statement. The museum is overseen by the state Education Department.
A manuscript of the speech will be displayed at the state Museum starting in February.
The speech can be found at www.nysm.nysed.gov/mlk.