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Speech Writer Of King’s ‘I Have A Dream,’ Clarence Jones, To Keynote UVU’s 19th Annual MLK Commemoration

14 January 2013 One Comment

January 14, 2013

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Clarence B. Jones, civil rights adviser, attorney and speech writer to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — he helped draft King’s now iconic and universally celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech — will deliver the keynote address at Utah Valley University’s 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration.

Jones will headline the University’s 2013 commemoration, Jan. 22-25, which examines equality issues past and present within artistic and academic presentations from guest lecturers, faculty and students. This year’s commemoration activities celebrate the 50th anniversary of King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jones’ keynote address will be Jan. 24 at 10 a.m. in the Sorensen Student Center’s Grande Ballroom. All MLK commemoration events and presentations are free and open to the public. A book signing for Jones’ “Behind the Dream” will immediately follow his remarks at 11:30 a.m.

Today, Jones is a scholar in residence and visiting professor at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University and a diversity scholar with the University of San Francisco. He was awarded the White House Letter of Commendation by President Bill Clinton for his work in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963, and is the author of “What Would Martin Say?” and “Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation.”

“Considering all that happened in 1963 — with civil rights supporter President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, the September church bombing in Birmingham that killed four little girls, and the delivery of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the year is almost as important for civil rights in America as 1968,” said William Cobb, the commemoration’s coordinator and a UVU professor of history. “The speech helped convert middle-of-the-road Americans who felt that King was too extreme. The speech convinced people that this wasn’t about King. It was about racism.”

With a full slate of presentations and lectures, including 18 scheduled panel sessions by students and faculty on various aspects of human and civil rights issues, this may be the annual commemoration’s most ambitious year yet. A diversity of topics will be explored, from the influence of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, to American Indian civil rights issues, bullying, bilingual education, poverty, same-sex marriage, environmentalism and human-trafficking.

Arts performances with civil rights themes will also be presented during the commemoration, from dance choreography, to a free screening of the 1962 Academy Award-winning classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Grande Ballroom, free popcorn), to a performance by the renowned 90-voice Herriman High School Choir from Herriman, Utah, just prior to Jones’ keynote speech.

“Civil rights are a practical manifestation of the ethical core of our American Founding,” UVU President Matthew S. Holland said. “Such rights have flourished best in places where a genuine care and concern — even love — for others has prevailed. Martin Luther King Jr. not only understood this, but articulated it with a power and poetry like few other figures in history.”

For a complete schedule of events and activities during UVU’s 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration, visit www.uvu.edu/chss/mlk/commemorations/index.html. For more information about the commemoration, contact Cobb at 801-863-8846 or william.cobb@uvu.edu.

Clarence Jones


About UVU

Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to more than 30,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community school, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.

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One Comment »

  • Heather Phelon said:

    I was only able to see the last few minutes of this speech. Is there a recording of it for those who weren’t able go?

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