CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 2, 2013 – An advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who helped draft King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech will present the keynote address at Southeast Missouri State University’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner Jan. 22 in the Show Me Center.
Clarence B. Jones served as a political advisor, counsel and draft speechwriter for King. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of San Francisco and scholar writer in residence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, and Palo Alto, Calif.
The theme of this year’s dinner is “Behind the Dream.”
Dinner tickets are $20 and are on sale now at Southeast Bookstore. Tickets also may be purchased online at www.semo.edu/mlk. One hundred free dinner tickets are available to students at Southeast Bookstore. Doors will open Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. with the dinner scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. For more information, call (573) 651-2298.
Jones has had a distinguished and heralded career. In addition to working with King, Jones joined Sanford I. Weill and Arthur Levitt, Jr. in Carter, Berlind & Weill, Inc. as an allied member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), becoming the first African American partner in a Wall Street investment banking firm. He has been twice recognized as Fortune’s “Business Man of the Month” and founded successful financial, corporate and media-related ventures. He also has provided strategic legal and financial consulting services to several governments around the world, including those in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Zambia.
Jones is the co-author of “What Would Martin Say?” and “Behind the DreamᾰThe Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation.” He also co-authored an e-book, “Uprising: Understanding Attica, Revolution and the Incarceration State.” He posts a regular column in the Huffington Post and is currently at work on his autobiography, “A Pencil and A Dollar Bill – Memoirs From An African-American Journey From the Depression to The Election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.”
“Clarence Jones describes the events leading up to the speech in his book ‘Behind the Dream,’ and he describes there how he wrote up notes for Dr. King to use. You can actually see in films of the speech the moment when Dr. King looks up from the notes and embarks on the “I have a dream” section; it was completely extemporaneous,” said Dr. Allen Gathman, associate dean for online learning and co-chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner at Southeast Missouri State University. “It is a real honor for Southeast to have Clarence Jones address the Martin Luther King Day celebration. It is not very often that you get the opportunity to hear directly from the people who worked with Dr. King in those historic days. I think I speak for the whole community in saying that we are excited about this event and looking forward to hearing Mr. Jones.”
Jones has received numerous awards recognizing his significant contributions to American society. Through his work in the civil rights movement, he dramatically impacted the course of American history. He coordinated the legal defense of King and the other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference against the libel suits filed against them and The New York Times by the police commission and other city officials of Birmingham, Ala. The Supreme Court ruling in this case – Sullivan vs. The New York Times – resulted in the landmark decision on the current law of libel. In April 1963, he drafted the settlement agreement between the City of Birmingham and Martin Luther King Jr. to bring about the end of demonstrations and the desegregation of department stores and public accommodations. In September 1971, Jones again found himself at the center of history in the making when, at the request of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, he helped negotiate an end to the historic Attica prison inmate rebellion.
Jones has been the subject of numerous television and radio interview programs. He appeared in The March, a documentary on the March on Washington, jointly produced by Robert Redford Productions/BBC/Smoking Dogs/PBS. He was recently filmed for a program on the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail for Al Jazeera America.”
He has been recognized with many honors and has served on The Impact Repertory Theatre & Dance Co., The Theatre Development Fund NYC and the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Jones holds a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia College, a Juris Doctor from Boston University’s School of Law and a certificate from The New York Institute of Finance and the NASD for his allied membership in the NYSE. He also has an honorary doctorate in communications from Allegheny College and honorary doctorates of humane letters from Drew University, Lincoln University and the University of San Francisco.