MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech Writer Clarence Jones on Today’s Civil Rights Struggles

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On August 28th, 1963, Clarence Jones stood about 50 feet behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he reverend delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Jones - personal friend, attorney, political adviser and draft speechwriter to King - remembers that day vividly.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the day King delivered his speech in front of 250,000 people, Jones, 82, spoke to Fusion about the civil rights struggles that led to the speech and the issues facing us today.

Jones said that while there has been a lot of progress towards equal rights in the U.S., King’s dream has not fully been realized. He cited the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, which disproportionately affects black and Latino males, as a signal that we have not reached full equality.

Jones also added he believed today’s civil rights struggles involved the fight for same-sex marriage equality and for a reform of the immigration system that will keep families together.

Jones said he identifies as a lion who is honored to be able to talk about Dr. King and his leadership, because a "fable has it that if the lions don’t tell their own stories, the hunter will get all the credit."

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