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Clarence B. Jones    

Former Adviser and Speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Clarence B. Jones has been passionately engaged as a writer, public speaker, and teacher, dedicated to furthering the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. among a broad public audience and from generation to generation.

Across the decades following Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, Clarence B. Jones worked to carry on Dr. King’s legacy, to continue the nonviolent struggle for social justice, voting rights, and democratic inclusion. Dr. Jones has engaged American society in various fields, capacities, and roles throughout these years.

As a lawyer, civil rights leader, and business executive in the entertainment field, Dr. Jones maintained close personal friendships -- and collaborative working relationships as -- with influential 20th-century artists, writers, athletes, and social justice activists, including Muhammed Ali, James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee, and Lorraine Hansberry. In 1974, Dr. Jones negotiated the historic “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match between Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. Dr. Jones has served on the boards of cultural organizations, including The Impact Repertory Theater & Dance Company, The Theatre Development Fund NYC, and the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

Dr. Jones was engaged in close working relationships and friendships with many leaders of the black liberation movement who interacted with King throughout these years. He served as a liaison between Dr. King and Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Robert F. Kennedy, among other figures. because of his relationship with Dr. King and his associates, Dr. Jones, he was the target of illegal wiretaps initiated by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, from July 1963 until Dr. King’s assassination.

He has authored two acclaimed books: "What Would Martin Say?" (Harper Perennial, 2008) and "Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation" (St. Martins, 2012), and countless articles and essays for the Huffington Post and many other publications. For many years, Dr. Jones served as a Scholar in Residence at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute and Diversity Professor at the University of San Francisco (USF). A popular course he developed and taught at USF (“From Slavery to Obama: Renewing the Promise of Reconstruction”) is now taught online in many historically black colleges.

Speech Topics

Education in America Today: Why Are We So Far Behind?

This speech objectively lays out a summation of the facts pertaining to education today. With communication based technology being the main source of gathering information in our society, the absence of education hurts young people, causing an influx of uneducated students. Therefore, these insufficient youth, as deemed by society, are unable to make a meaningful economic contribution to sustain themselves and their families. Jones’ goal is to shed light on some of the possible options for action and other solutions in order to address and redress the education problem in America today.

Redefining the Landscape of Corporate America

The expression “Nero while Rome burned” refers to heedless and irrelevant behavior in the midst of a crisis. Jones’ believes much of Corporate America is the “Neroes” of today. In his speech, he revisits and redefines the landscape of Corporate Responsibility and its response to many of the social, economic, and educational problems in society.

The Color of Skin vs. The Context of Character in the 21st Century

Jones’ gives a frank discussion on the translation of this phrase extracted from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. More specifically, the conditions of present-day America are scrutinized in comparison to the challenge of Dr. King and whether society is consistent or inconsistent with the message.

The 21st Century Challenge of the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the 20th century's pre-eminent apostle of non-violence and the pursuit of justice. From Dr. King's beautifully illustrated philosophies in his 1963 Letter From A Birmingham Jail to the powerful "I Have A Dream" speech, Jones’ finds that 50 years later, the same challenges of racial segregation and unfair treatment are still posed for civil society today.

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