Magician David Copperfield has always been a good guy in our book and the later film adaptation of our book now appearing in New York and Los Angeles art theatres — the kind where they serve you blush wine to sip in the dark whilst you eat your popcorn and sit in the odd-shaped chairs scavenged from a distressed office furniture auction.
But he has proven his goodness by something he did not do. Mr. Copperfield happened across a very rare recording of an interview with Martin Luther King Jr. made in December 1960.
Tennessean Stephon Tull found the tape in some of his father’s old boxes a few months ago.
“No words can describe. I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Tull told the Associated Press. “I found … a lost part of history.”
His father was intent on writing a book about his personal encounters with racism and the interview was apparently conducted in support of the book. Dr. King shared his definition of nonviolence and supported its practice to overcome the social scourge racism represents.
Here’s the magic part. Inside Magic Favorite David Copperfield bought the tape recording from a New York collector. He could have exploited it for quick cash or grabbed some headlines with news of his acquisition. Did he? No, he did not. And that’s why we like him so.“The magician’s art is about making people dream.” Mr. Copperfield told the Associated Press. The magician admired Dr. King’s inspiration and his lifetime encouragement for people to dream.
“The magic of Dr. King was in his message: peace and nonviolence. I didn’t want this to be hoarded away. I wanted it to be shared with people to continue the message . . . which is more important today than it’s ever been.”
Without fanfare or self-promotion, Mr. Copperfield donated the recording to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Museum President Beverly Robertson was so excited by the donation.
We are absolutely honored and thrilled to be receiving this audio that really presents history in the voice of one of the greatest human rights leaders of our time. There are few places that have King’s actual voice integrated into the exhibit, so this is a tremendous enhancement for all of our efforts at the National Civil Rights Museum.
Raymond Winbush is director of the Institute for Urban Research at Maryland’s Morgan State University. He, to use the colloquial, blown away by the magician’s kindness. He told the AP said:
I think while we can exhale about this. Hopefully in the future–when we get some national treasures like this–it will always be available for people to see for history’s sake, rather than just held onto – then sold at some enormous price.
Mr. Copperfield is good at keeping secrets and has not disclosed the amount he paid for the tape. Some appraisers say it could have gone for about $100,000.00.
America celebrates its federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. today and this story seemed a perfect fit. Interestingly, we did not get a tip from Mr. Copperfield’s people or any press sources associated with the magician. He earned tons of good points for his kind, considerate and generous work behind the scenes.
He makes magicians all look good. Thank you, Mr. Copperfield.