Things That Matter

Lost KKK Tapes Have Been Uncovered By A Journalist And They Are As Bad As You Might Imagine

Back in 2012, the daughters of Eugene B. Sloane, a photographer and journalist, came across a piece of uncovered Martin Luther King Jr. history, a never-heard-before recording. After their father’s passing, the women had begun to sort through his belongings, and they’re tucked away in a box sat his original Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder and two reel-to-reel audio tapes. The two tapes, although recorded in 1967, have content that is still relevant today. 

Eugene B. Sloane was a respected reporter for the South Carolina newspaper, The State, who was most well-known for his coverage during the civil rights era.

One of the tapes found is a rare recording of a Klan meeting, that took place the night before a Dr.  Martin Luther King event. 

Credit: Invaluable Auction

That evening, in the summer of 1967, there was a public announcement that a Klan meeting would be taking place; Sloane then taped the recorder to his waist and hid it under a Klan robe, then placed a hood over his head and began to tape the entire meeting. In the recording you can hear the Klan leader, spewing false rumors and hate, making wild accusations that black men are coming to their city to rape white women, this is eerily similar to Donald Trump’s presidential announcement when he stated all Mexicans rapist and criminals. The man on the tape goes on to inflate the crowd sizes saying there will thousands coming the following day, which is exactly the same type of mob mentality that Trump creates when he spreads the same hate-filled lies about “invasions” happening on the “southern border.”

Sadly, the most parallel wording in the recording is when the Klan leader calls for King’s death, “for God help that —- He ought to be shot.” His call to action is then followed by audience applause and honking in solidarity. 

Eight months later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would end up being assassinated by a white supremacist, with a rifle. 

Credit: Courtesy of Yolitzma Aguirre

On August 3, 2019, fifty-one years after white supremacy took the life of Dr. King Jr., in a mirrored action, the largest massacre of Latinos (in modern history) took place in El Paso, TX, when a supremacist drove 8 hours from Plano, TX – with a rifle – and murdered twenty-two innocent people. In the shooter’s own words, his objective was to “kill as many Mexicans as possible.”

During the most recent Democratic debate, the candidates were asked their thoughts on Trump’s responsibility in the El Paso massacre. Senator Kamala Harris’ response spoke volumes of truth. 

In both assassination of MLK and the massacre in El Paso, white men pulled the trigger and white supremacy was the ammunition.

Credit: @KamalaHarris / Twitter

In 1967 (much like today) racial tensions were at an all-time high. The Detroit riots had taken place a week before King’s Charleston visit. Yet despite all the racist hate hurled his way, Dr. King continued with the Poor People’s Campaign, he believed in the greater good and the work that must be done in order to truly attain equality. 

The second recording in Sloane’s belongings spoke exactly to that purpose. In this newly discovered recording, King discusses the very same issues that we are still battling today. On the topic of racism, he states, “…wherever we live in America, you have to face the fact honestly that racial discrimination is present. So don’t get complacent; certainly, we’ve made some strides, we’ve made some progress here and there but it hasn’t been enough; it hasn’t been fast enough; and although we’ve come a long long way, we still have a long, long way to go.

The 45-minute speech had profound key points on a range of issues, including the fundamental racism in this country, that must be changed, otherwise, freedom is not “free” for us all. He explains the pitfalls in the system, how America likes to say everyone is equal yet not everyone was allowed equal opportunity to attend school, therefore not everyone has equal opportunity to equal jobs, which means not everyone has equal opportunity to earn income, and not everyone has equal opportunity to afford food or a home…and the cycle continues.

If you look at the United States today, it is sad to say, not much has changed since King gave this Charleston speech.

Credit: @Nikki_Lew / Twitter

What the recording leaves us with, is the very essence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, that in the end, love beat out hate and fuel our movement. “so I’m not gonna give you a motto or preach a philosophy burn, baby burn. I’m gonna say build, baby build organize, baby, organize. I’ve decided to stick with love…Somebody’s gotta have some sense in this world. And a lot of white folks have demonstrated eloquently that they don’t have no sense and why should we be that way? The reason I’m not gonna preach a doctrine of black supremacy is because I’m sick and tired of white supremacy.

These two tapes that have now surfaced, have been cared for by Sloane’s daughters and will now be released to the public at auction. The sisters reached out to Guernsey auction house – who has handled many civil rights memorabilia, including Rosa Parks’ archives – and made the arrangements to personally hand deliver the tapes themselves, in order to assure the tapes arrived undamaged. 

The tapes, photos, and other items will be placed for auction on September 19th, 2019. 

Over fifty years after his death, Dr. King Jr. continues to be a beacon of hope, a light shining in the darkest hours. 

It has been a little over a month since the massacre took place in El Paso, TX, and in the month, we have seen different communities come together, to support each other in this dark hour, and as the next presidential election approaches we can listen to Dr. King’s words from that 1967 in recording, “build, baby build, organize, baby organize.” 

Already we have seen many groups begin to roll out their 2020 plans for engagement and voter registration. Democratic leaders like, Stacey Abrams – whose midterm race for governor of Georgia became national attention due to voter discrimination – has launched Fair Fight 2020, a voter protection program which will run across 20 states.

READ: These Surprising Facts Will Explain Why Latinos Ought To Celebrate Juneteenth

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