Tuskegee University Archives release historic audio recordings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and more


In honor of Black History Month, the Tuskegee University Libraries are pleased to announce the following digitized audio files which will be made available on the Tuskegee University Archives website during the week of February 13, 2017. The tapes include speeches by Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali. These recordings have been transferred from two sides of a 7 inch reel-to-reel tape preserved in the Tuskegee University Archives' TCA audio collection.

Jackie Robinson speaks at the Tuskegee Civic 
Association Meeting, 1959. - Courtesy: Tuskegee
University Archives, P.H. Polk Collection, 2017.

The Jackie Robinson Audio: This Tuskegee Civic Association (TCA) meeting, from June 1959, takes place on the second anniversary of the start of the TCA’s Crusade for Citizenship. The crusade was a voter registration and civil rights campaign that started in 1957 to fight Senate Bill 291, which gerrymandered the city limits to remove the black voter population from the city. This meeting was recorded on a 7-inch reel-to-reel and digitized by the Tuskegee University Archives. The meeting starts with a devotion from T.H. Brown and continues with announcements from Charles Gomillion, President of the TCA, and remarks from Frank Tolland. Tolland gives a brief history of the Crusade for Citizenship in Tuskegee as part of his remarks. The Mount Olive Senior Choir led the music, followed by the financial appeal from W.C. Patton, and W.P. Mitchell introduced the main speaker for the night’s meeting. The Brooklyn Dodger’s Jackie Robinson attended the meeting in support of the TCA’s crusade and supported the example that Tuskegee was setting for the country. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at the TCA meeting,
1957.  - Courtesy: Tuskegee University Archives,
P.H. Polk Collection, 2017.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Audio: This audio recording preserves a historic July 2, 1957 mass meeting called by the Tuskegee Civic Association (TCA) in the second month of the Tuskegee Boycott and Crusade for Citizenship. The main program includes a message from K. L. Buford, a local minister and activist in Tuskegee, and speeches of support by Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph David Abernathy, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Devotions are delivered by E.G. Braxter, reports and remarks by C.G. Gomillion, President of the TCA, and the Financial Appeal by S. T. Martin. TCA called a mass meeting in response to Senate Bill 291, a bill sponsored by Macon County state senator and White Citizens' Council leader Sam Engelhardt. SB 291 dramatically redrew the Tuskegee city limits, in order to gerrymander all but 5 registered black voters out of the city. At the moment of crisis, these historic speeches urged the community to "get in it," and called for endurance and unity in the struggles to overturn SB 291 and to end second-class citizenship in Macon County. 

Muhammad Ali speaks before Tuskegee game with
ASU in 1966. - Courtesy: Tuskegee University
Archives, P.H. Polk Collection, 2017.

The Muhammad Ali Audio: On November 23, 1966, the Tuskegee Institute SGA brought the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali, as part of his college speaking tour. This speech, given before the annual Cramton Bowl Classic, included a speech by Tuskegee’s Coach Leroy Smith about the following day’s rivalry game with Alabama State. Ali spoke about his conversion to the Nation of Islam and his views concerning the major Civil Rights leaders and their efforts to seek equality. Ali ends his talk by reciting a poem about his fight against Ernest “Ernie” Terrell, the “Phantom Punch” during his fight with Sonny Liston, and showing off the “Ali Shuffle.” His speech is followed by comments from John Shabazz of Los Angeles. 

University archivist Dana Chandler said, “This is a singular event in that these speeches were given over 50 years ago and have not been heard since then. The messages are still very relevant today and we invite the public to listen to the tapes at Tuskegee University Archives Repository website.”

Click here to visit the Archives Repository website.

© 2017 Tuskegee University

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