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Texas Southern University Library to Receive Rare Speech Recordings

Texas Southern University today will take possession of recorded speeches by Langston Hughes, Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer, among others, that are being donated by Pacifica Radio Archives’ S.O.S. (Save Our Sound) Tour.

More than 50,000 tapes in the archives are in danger of permanent damage caused by aging, but the publicly sponsored Pacifica Radio Station has started the process of digitizing the recordings with help from partner projects. 

The collection of donated recordings includes a 1953 interview of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois on world peace and revolt in Africa; a panel discussion on the civil rights movement with Malcolm X and Bayard Rustin in 1960; and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech in 1968 at an anti-war demonstration in Santa Rita, Calif., among many others.

“In donating these recently restored historical tapes to Texas Southern University and other universities on our cross-county tour, we are fulfilling a dream and mission to make these rare treasures of our archives accessible to future scholars of African-American history,” says Brian De Shazor, director of the archives.

De Shazor will present the donated recordings to Dr. Obidike Kamau, director of TSU’s Robert James Terry Library. Kamau, who hosts a show on Pacifica, talked about the possibility of a donation in 2004 and says it is gratifying to see it bear fruit.

“The recordings will be in CD or MP3 format,” he told Diverse. He says he intends to put the digital recordings on the Internet before the semester is over.

Kamau also says the historical and cultural value of the collection will make it very significant for the library’s collection but “since we don’t allow special collections to be checked out, we have to work out how the archives will be accessed … podcasting will be the best way.”

Pacifica Radio Station started in 1949 in Berkeley, Calif., before expanding to Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Washington, D.C.

The tour will make stops at affiliate stations along the way — KPFA (Berkeley, Calif.), KFAI (Minneapolis/St. Paul), WORT (Madison, Wis.), KGNU (Boulder, Colo.) KVNF (Paonia, Colo.) and KZMU (Moab, Utah) — to introduce staff and programmers to the rare recordings. Pacifica also plans to donate copies of the recordings to Temple, Howard and Naropa universities as well as the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin, in addition to TSU.


— Diverse staff reports

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