King Institute scholar-in-residence Clarence B. Jones was honored on Tuesday, June 6, by his alma mater, Palmyra High School in New Jersey, for his life’s work as a civil rights activist and counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr.
After delivering a speech Tuesday morning, Jones took part in a ceremony in which the school formally renamed its library in his honor. On Wednesday morning, Jones engaged with elementary and high school students in a roundtable discussion.
Jones, a valedictorian of Palmyra’s class of 1949, attributes the racial tension he witnessed at the school with inspiring his civil rights career. Jones’ return marks his first visit to the school in nearly seventy years.
“Palmyra should feel very proud, not so much of me, but that one of its sons was able – by the preparation it gave me – to transition into a relationship” with King, Jones told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In addition to the renaming of the library, Palmyra High School will also found the Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Advocacy, although Jones and the school remain in the planning stage regarding the operation of the institute.