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John Lewis on new MLK tape: 'I was moved to tears'

Civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis calls the recently discovered audio of an interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.' "so relevant today." Tuesday marks the 49th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

A few months after the discovery of an audio tape featuring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocating the use of non-violent means to reach a peaceful end, a fellow civil rights icon reflected on that message.

U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA-D), told Patch that when he listened to the tape, he “was moved to tears.”

The 10-minute reel-to-reel interview with King was produced nearly three years before his “I Have a Dream" speech. Reuters reports that in a low-key discussion that comes through “clearly and powerfully,” King explains on the tape that the civil rights movement “represents struggle on the highest level of dignity and discipline."

Tuesday is the 49th anniversary of King's riveting speech in Washington.

On August 28, 1963, King delivered his oratory masterpiece from the Lincoln Memorial steps to a gathering of 200,000 mesmerized civil rights supporters. King’s powerful yet eloquent conscience-inspiring call out for the end of discrimination in the name of racial equality will live on forever.

As president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis spoke prior to King that day at the Lincoln Memorial. He has also heard the new tapes that were recorded Dec. 21, 1960 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A veteran civil rights leader and activist, Lewis said he “was moved to tears” hearing his friend King “speaking out of his soul, out of his gut” with words concerning “the struggle around the world for a world community at peace with itself.”

Lewis, 72, has been serving Georgia’s 5th congressional district since 1987. On Friday, Lewis joined about 60 anti-war protesters gathered in the heart of Midtown Atlanta to recognize the 10th anniversary of the 'Stand for Peace' weekly vigil opposing the war in Afghanistan and occupations abroad. There he spoke to Patch about recently listening to the newly discovered MLK interview.

The tape was found in a Tennessee attic, and a New York collector has purchased it and intends to offer it for sale very shortly. A factor in selecting a buyer would be to find a home where the tape would be available for the public.

Are you 'moved' when you listen to King's "I Have a Dream" speech? Where would you rank its importance in US history?


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