Only on 5: Lost tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Only on 5: Lost tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Only on 5, lost tapes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, hidden in a box inside a couple's closet.

The daughter of a newspaper reporter in Charleston, South Carolina made the discovery: a moment in time that brings back strong memories.

The box of audio tapes is heading to a bank vault. Until recently, it had been shuffled from closet to closet in Laura and Birdie Crosby's home.

The tapes were passed down by Laura's father, a reporter for a South Carolina Newspaper.

The Crosby's had never listened to the tapes.

"So with great trepidation we got the tapes out of the box, opened them carefully, put them on the machine," said Laura Crosby.

"It was so clear it was like it was recorded yesterday," Birdie Crosby said.

"Said I came to Charleston to start a riot, been here a week organizing (laughter). As much as I talk about love, how could anybody accuse me of organizing a riot?" you can hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. say on the tapes.

The Detroit riots took place one week before Dr. King came to Charleston and spoke against the violence.

"And so I'm not gonna give you a motto of preach philosophy burn baby burn, I'm gonna say build baby build, organize baby organize," Dr. King is heard to say.

And that was the headline for the article written by Eugene B Sloan, Laura Crosby's father.

He was at the airport snapping pictures when Reverend King arrived, and we see Sloan inside Charleston County Hall.

According to Sloan's report, thousands of people came to hear Dr. King. Among them, a twelve year old girl who shared the stage with the civil rights leader.  Her name is Jakki Jefferson, and she vividly remembers that day.   Her words were also caught on tape, and recently she heard herself for the very first time.

"..the Freedom Budget is a practical step by step plan," she says on the tape.

Jefferson had forgotten the role she played, but remembered Dr. King's message.

"We're all responsible for this United States," she said.

Dr. King's most famous speech, given four years earlier stirred up feelings of brotherhood.

In Charleston the message was a piercing arrow fired at America's racism, poverty and war.

"We've made strides and progress but there hasn't been enough or fast enough. We have a long way to go. The plant of freedom has brought only a bud, not a flower. Long way to go," Dr. King says on the tapes.

"And 45 years later, we still have these raw conditions," Jefferson said.

The Crosbys are in the process of preserving the recordings with the help of historians. They also uncovered recordings of Reverend Ralph Abernathy at a 1969 rally for hospital workers in Charleston.

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