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Dream Boldly: Lifting King's Legacy

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 -
3:00pm to 5:30pm PST
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street. Goldman Room. San Francisco, CA
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Clarence B. Jones was a speechwriter and counsel for Martin Luther King, Jr. His work in the civil rights movement dramatically impacted the course of American history, and he has received numerous state and national awards recognizing his significant contributions to American society. Jones became the first African-American partner in a Wall Street investment banking member firm of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), was selected twice by Fortune Magazine as “A Business Man of The Month,” and founded several corporate and media-related ventures. 

He assisted Dr. King in drafting “I Have a Dream” and bore witness to some of the greatest civil rights victories in our nation's history.

In this moment we face challenges to individual civil rights, rising economic and social inequities, and newly visible violence against young men of color. We have much to learn from the experience of the civil rights movement. What approaches and strategies of the past might we use today? What mistakes from that period could we get right this time around, with the benefit of technology and hindsight? What’s the role of philanthropy and nonprofits in creating a just and equitable society?

Join us to hear Dr. Jones in conversation with KQED’s Joshua Johnson as we celebrate Martin Luther King and reflect on the power we have to realize the dream he voiced.


  • 3:00-4:00 Private Reception (by invitation)

  • 3:30-4:00 Public Registration

  • 4:00-4:10 Program Opening (note that it will start promptly)

  • 4:10-5:30 Interview & Discussion


Dr. Clarence B. Jones is currently the First Diversity Visiting Professor at the University of San Francisco and a scholar writer in residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, and Palo Alto, CA. His lecture courses include “From Slavery to Obama” and “The Art of Advocacy Speech Writing.”

Jones has served as political advisor, counsel, and draft speechwriter for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; 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; been twice recognized as Fortune’s Business Man of the Month; and founded successful financial, corporate and media-related ventures. He has also provided strategic legal and financial consulting services to several governments around the world including those in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Zambia.

Dr. 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 Dr. 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 commissioner and other city officials of Birmingham, AL. 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. He assisted Dr. King in the drafting of his celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech that he delivered at the March on Washington, August 28th, 1963. In September 1971, Dr. Jones again found himself at the center of history in the making when, at the request of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, he helped negotiate an end to the historic Attica Prison inmate rebellion and for many years thereafter became involved in "Prison Reform."

Dr. Jones has a bi-monthly column on Huffington Post which discusses a range of topics from race to finance to politics and more. He has also been the subject of numerous television and radio interview programs, appearing in such notable media vehicles as CNN, The O’Reilly Factor, The Tavis Smiley Show, NY1’s One-on-One with Budd Mishkin, NPR radio, BBC UK (radio and TV), CBS local and National, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC, Canadian Broadcasting, Alitjd Wat Dutch TV, the Charlie Rose Show, AL Jazeera, Sirius XM”s the Bob Edwards Show, and featured in articles in the Washington Post, USA Today, Vanity Fair, UK Sunday Mirror, Time, and Ebony and Jet Magazines. He has recently been a part of The March, a documentary on the March on Washington, jointly produced by Sundance /BBC/Smoking Dogs/PBS. He has just finished being filmed for a program on The Letter from the Birmingham Jail for Al Jazeera America.

He is co-author of What Would Martin Say? (2008), Behind the Dream-The Making of the Speech That Transformed A Nation (2011) and the audio version of the book, which was released on August 20th, 2013.

Hosted by Northern California Grantmakers, The San Francisco Foundation, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Rosenberg Foundation and KQED