On July 21, 2017, Dr. Clarence Jones, the King Institute’s scholar-in-residence and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s attorney, speechwriter and advisor, delivered a talk at the Institute. Dr. Jones spoke about his personal experiences with Dr. King, recounted humorous personal anecdotes, and shared his opinion on Dr. King’s legacy.
Dr. Jones began by speaking about his childhood and early adulthood, and what motivated him to enter the profession of law. He then shared a humorous anecdote about how Dr. King convinced him to become his lawyer.
When Dr. Jones was still a young lawyer in his 20’s, Judge Delany contacted him and asked him to be a chief legal counsel for Dr. King, who had just been indicted for perjury and state tax evasion. When Dr. Jones declined, Dr. King even visited him in his home in New York in the attempt to convince him to join their cause as an attorney.
Though Dr. Jones declined his offer, Dr. King invited him to his sermon that very Sunday. That was the first time Dr. Jones ever saw or heard Dr. King deliver one of his moving speeches. He was so moved by the power and eloquence of his words that by the end of the sermon, he decided to become Dr. King’s attorney.
“I didn’t say a word to Dr. King,” said Dr. Jones. “I just went over to him, and I took my right hand, grabbed his left hand, and used my left hand and took his right arm and pulled him closer to me. And I looked at him, still a little tearful, and said, ‘Dr. King, when do you want me to go to Montgomery, Alabama?’”
Dr. Jones answered the Institute’s summer interns insightful questions about Dr. King, and concluded by elaborating on Dr. King’s anti-war, anti-poverty, and anti-racism legacy, and the unparalleled impact his work has had on American society and politics.