You’re listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the National Negro Funeral Directors Association in August of 1956.

You’re on the Sound Beat.

When Dr. King addressed the group he was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which guided the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“What the Montgomery Bus Boycott represents is a moment where there are real implications for the ways in which white supremacy operates. Not just in the south, but nationwide.”

Jessica Terry-Elliott is a Ph. D candidate in History at the Maxwell School and Curatorial Assistant at the Special Collections Research Center at the Syracuse University Libraries.

“We’re on the backdrop of World War II, we’ve entered into the Cold War. So in this global context if we’re really going to have the conversation about democracy versus the other thing, how can you sit here and deny democracy…to citizens?”

Hear more episodes featuring “The Birth of a New Age” this week at

Sound Beat is produced at the Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries.

This image, entitled “Rosa Parks being fingerprinted by Deputy Sheriff D.H. Lackey after being arrested on February 22, 1956, during the Montgomery bus boycott“, is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between 1928 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice.