Join us for an in-depth conversation with Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s counsel and draft speechwriter who is completing a memoir while in residence at Stanford’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.
CLARENCE B. JONES
Clarence B. Jones joined the team of lawyers defending King in the midst of King’s 1960 tax fraud trial; the case was resolved in King’s favor in May 1960. In 1962, he became general counsel for the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, the fundraising arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Following King’s 12 April 1963 arrest in Birmingham for violating a related injunction against demonstrations, Jones secretly took King’s hand-written response from jail to eight Birmingham clergymen who had denounced the protests in the newspaper. It was typed and circulated among the Birmingham clergy and later printed and distributed nationally as “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Jones continued to function as King’s lawyer and advisor through the remainder of his life, assisting him in drafting the “I Have a Dream” speech and preserving King’s copyright of the momentous address; serving as part of King’s inner circle of advisers, called the “research committee”; and contributing with Vincent Harding and Andrew Young to King’s “Beyond Vietnam” address at New York’s Riverside Church on 4 April 1967. After King’s death, Jones was editor and part owner of the New York Amsterdam News from 1971 to 1974. He was the first African American to become a partner in a Wall Street investment banking firm and now serves as a legal strategist and financial consultant for governments worldwide. He is currently a scholar in residence at Stanford's Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Instittue.