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Clarence B. Jones

Former Adviser & Speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr.

Former Adviser & Speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr.

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Palo Alto, CA, USA
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Clarence B. Jones Biography

Dr. Clarence B. Jones served as legal counsel, strategic advisor, and draft speechwriter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1960 until Dr. King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Vanity Fair called him the man who kept King’s secrets; Dr. Jones was privy to Reverend King’s decision-making processes and political struggles.

During that time, Dr. King depended on Dr. Jones for legal and strategic counsel and assistance in drafting landmark speeches and public testimony. He is credited with writing the first seven paragraphs of the iconic I Have A Dream speech. With the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington approaching, Dr. Jones shows no signs of slowing down.

He has authored two acclaimed books What Would Martin Say? and Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation, and countless articles and essays for the Huffington Post and many other publications. His next book, Last of the Lions, is due July 2023 (Red Hawk Publications/UNC Press).

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 was 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.

Jones currently serves as the Chairman of the Spill the Honey Foundation, an organization dedicated to Black- Jewish relations. He also founded the Dr. Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy and also serves as the Founding Director Emeritus of the Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Jones was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of San Francisco and honored at events at Columbia University, where he was an undergraduate, and the Julliard School of Performing Arts, where he studied music. He graduated from the Boston University Law School. A few decades later,his fellow classmates selected him as the recipient of the Silver Shingle Award for his public service. In 2021, he received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the American Bar Association, the highest recognition given by the ABA, awarded in a ceremony in August 2021 with a keynote address from President Barack Obama.

He 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.

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.

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Speaker profile last updated by AAE Talent Team on 11/01/2023.

Clarence B. Jones Speaking 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.

Clarence B. Jones Videos

  • Dr. Clarence Jones, friend and advisor to MLK, on Dr. King's death ...
  • Clarence B Jones on Martin Luther King Jr. - YouTube
  • UVU: Dr. Clarence B. Jones - "The Dream Turns 50"

Clarence B. Jones Books

  • Last of the Lions
    Last of the Lions
  • Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation
    Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation
  • What Would Martin Say?
    What Would Martin Say?

Speaker Lists Featuring Clarence B. Jones

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  • What topics does Clarence B. Jones speak about?

    Clarence B. Jones is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Activism, Black History, Business, Civil Rights, College, Culture, Diversity, Finance, Inspirational, Political, Small Business, Social Justice, Virtual Speakers.
  • Where does Clarence B. Jones travel from?

    Clarence B. Jones generally travels from Palo Alto, CA, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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Clarence B. Jones is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as Education in America Today: Why Are We So Far Behind?, Redefining the Landscape of Corporate America, The Color of Skin vs. The Context of Character in the 21st Century and The 21st Century Challenge of the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.. The estimated speaking fee range to book Clarence B. Jones for your event is available upon request. Clarence B. Jones generally travels from Palo Alto, CA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Van Jones, Hill Harper, Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Bernice King and Angela Davis. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Clarence B. Jones for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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