Long-lost audio of Martin Luther King Jr. speech found in UCLA storage room

An audio recording of a speech given by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, long thought to be lost in time, was made available to the masses this week online. 

The 55-minute recording of the speech delivered by the late civil rights leader on April 27, 1965 at the University of California-Los Angeles was unearthed from a storage room by archivist Derek Bolin and Tim Groeling, chair of the UCLA Department of Communication Studies.

“It’s a speech of importance that deserves to be released on a day of importance,” Bolin, also a 2013 UCLA graduate, said Friday in a press release on what would have been King Jr.’s 86th birthday.

On the recording, the sound of birds chirping can be heard as Joel Boxer, the chairman of the now defunct Associated Students Speakers program at UCLA, welcomes the crowd to what “must be the largest program in the speakers program history.”

The speech happened a month and two days after King’s historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., which was the subject of the 2014 film “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay.

In November 2014, another recording of a speech given by King Jr. in 1962 was discovered in New York City.

Bolin and Groeling had been working since last year to digitize hundreds of speeches from the 1960s and 70s recorded onto seven-inch reel-to-reel tapes that had been left to languish in the archives.

The recordings recovered by the duo, which include a 1972 speech by Jane Fonda at an anti-Vietnam War rally and a 1968 speech given by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, have been posted on the UCLA Department of Communication Studies’ YouTube channel.