Poor People's Campaign

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This portion of the collection consists of further unique and historic police surveillance tapes made by the Subversive Unit in 1968 at an early stage of the Poor People's Campaign. At a mass meeting in Bessemer, Alabama, Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, Hosea Williams, and an unidentified fourth speaker discuss the campaign in relation to African-American history and current events. On the streets of Birmingham, an unidentified African-American speaker links a Vietnam War protest to civil rights issues. Elsewhere, the location and date unknown, an unidentified African-American man gives a speech on black power and unity. These reel-to-reel surveillance tapes have been transferred to digital files. Owing to the poor quality of the recordings, there is no transcript of substantial portions of these tapes.


Speeches, Bessemer, Alabama, 20 March 1968


Civil rights and anti-war speeches, March 1968

This tape ran at an unconventional speed.  This unconventional speed probably derived from the reel-to-reel tape backup system used for court dictation machines. These machines ran at a non-standard speed, so that official court recordings could not be played back in unauthorized settings. Perhaps the Subversive Unit used a portable court dictation machine to make this recording on the streets of Birmingham. The alternative digital versions presented here run at 140% and 145% of the original speed, to make the voice intelligible.


Black power and unity speech