Skip to main content


    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Audio Tape Recording of His Last Full Staff Meeting on January 17, 1968.

    Historically important tape recording of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing a full staff meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that took place at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on January 17, 1968. The tape was the property of C. Clarence Mayfield, a Savannah-based lawyer who provided legal representation for the SCLC and NAACP until the time of his death in 1996. Mayfield was also a close friend of Hosea Williams. It is not known whether Mayfield recorded the tape or was given it by Williams.

    The tape runs 53 minutes and 11 seconds. The comments of Dr. King run approximately 24 minutes. They appear at the beginning of the tape, recorded at a somewhat low sound level. There is then a brief silence followed by truncated music of the period (we assume this tape originally contained music solely, but was recorded over, a common practice at the time). After another short silence, Dr. King's speech repeats in its entirety, at a much higher sound level. It is clear as a bell and gives one the impression of being right there in the room. There are no other speakers, but members of the audience are occasionally heard giving words of encouragement, anticipation or assent. The talk is a combination of a sermon, pep talk and personal reflection, delivered in King's moving and inspirational style.

    King was a co-founder of the SCLC in 1957. Here, he assembles his entire staff to discuss the upcoming Poor People's Campaign and a planned march on Washington. In contrast to the August 28, 1963 march where King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech, this event would focus on economic issues for the nation's poor, including affordable housing and unemployment. In his presentation, King stresses jobs and income as key issues. The trip to Washington would provide the means to air grievances. "Something is wrong and we are not going to sit down on stools of do-nothingism and accept it... The right to eat... the right to live... this is what we 're going to Washington about.... My demand for Washington is... Repent, America! I'm serious about this..." He discusses the purpose of demonstrations, noting that crime rates go down in areas where demonstrations occur, contrary to popular perception. "In dangerous moments, people begin to hold hands that didn't believe they could hold them. Black folks and white folks get together in a strange way." He discusses the power of hope and perseverance, recalling a dramatic ninth inning win by the Brooklyn Dodgers over the New York Giants ("There is a law in physics which says the object with the greatest power moves the other object... [what] hope really means to me is a refusal to stop... Hope is the eternal refusal to give up and, in this sense, has a medicinal value... We and SCLC are the custodians of hope... Let us have enough courage and enough hope to believe in the emergence of morning. It was left us with darkness all around, but morning will surely come. If I didn't believe this, I couldn't make it... when it it is dark enough, you can still see the stars." He talks about some of the setbacks encountered by the organization and the perception by some that it has failed. "We don't have much. The people we are going to be recruiting don't have much." He references some of the prior campaigns, such as Chicago, Montgomery and Birmingham. Speaking directly to one of the audience, Big Lester Hankerson (voter registration activist and bodyguard to MLK), he notes "Lester became a man [in Birmingham]". Poignantly, he concludes the speech by saying "I may not see you before, but I'll meet you in Washington." Partial staff meetings were held in Atlanta on March 30th and at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on April 4th, just prior to his assassination. He never made it to Washington on April 22nd, as planned.

    The speech is an interesting mix of inspirational oratory based on the Bible and teachings of Christ, sports analogies, impassioned declarations of conviction, acknowledgment of failure and intimate glimpses into his soul, infused with idealism and hope. Two weeks prior to the auction, our web site will provide a link that will feature a brief audio sample. The winning bidder will also receive a MP3 file of the tape. Be prepared to be inspired!

    Fees, Shipping, and Handling Description: Miscellaneous Collectibles, Small (view shipping information)

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2017
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 438

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 4 days left to consign to the 2018 May 11 Space Exploration - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The department director has the heart of a true and highly knowledgeable collector with the business acumen of someone who has been not only successful but has decades of an impeccable track record
    David Greenburg,
    Chicago, IL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 March 10 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Americana, Part 2 Internet Session
    2018 March 10 The David and Janice Frent Collection of Political & Presidential Americana, Part 2 Internet Session
    REALIZED SO FAR $134,169