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I have a dream.” When those words were spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the crowd stood, electrified, as Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the plight of African Americans to the public consciousness and firmly established himself as one of the greatest orators of all time. Behind the Dream is a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King. Jones was there, on the road, ...
I have a dream.” When those words were spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the crowd stood, electrified, as Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the plight of African Americans to the public consciousness and firmly established himself as one of the greatest orators of all time. Behind the Dream is a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King. Jones was there, on the road, collaborating with the great minds of the time, and hammering out the ideas and the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.
With the assistance of filmmaker and Huffington Post contributor Connelly, Jones, who was present at the creation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, revisits the forces that generated the 1963 March on Washington and that animated the speech that now represents an entire era.
The author, a former attorney for King, does not offer a detailed account of how King and his advisors crafted the speech; for that, see Drew Hansen'sThe Dream (2003) or Eric J. Sundquist'sKing's Dream (2009).In fact, writes Jones, he did not even see a final copy before he heard it, but he was pleased that King kept his suggestion for the initial image of the promissory note. However, the author provides numerous intriguing insider insights about life on the road with King—notably, the amusing moment when Jones, frustrated with the egos of some of the other speakers elbowing for position in the event's final, prime slot, asked if any of them really wanted to follow King to the podium; none did. Jones also confirms a couple of stories: that the Justice Department did indeed have a "kill switch" on the sound system, and that gospel singer Mahalia Jackson urged Kingduring the speech to talk about his dream, at which point King turned his prepared remarks face down and continued somewhat extemporaneously. Jones explains how and why he, at the last minute, copyrighted the speech, and he pays homage to Nelson Rockefeller and Sen. Ted Kennedy—though he is less generous to JFK and RFK. He describes severe worries and frustration, given that the daunting logistics of the March, and ends with some reflections on America's enduring racism, the contentious issue of reparations and the uneven presidency of Barack Obama.
Essential reading about a moment of surpassing political and moral importance.
“Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the course of American history by challenging – and inspiring – the country to confront injustice and live up to our founding ideals. The words he spoke at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 will forever be immortalized for their beauty and power, and they will forever echo in the soul of American life. Jones and Connelly capture the fascinating story behind this historic moment, shedding new light on a speech that ushered in a new dawn for the nation.”—Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“The author provides numerous intriguing insider insights about life on the road with King. . . . Essential reading about a moment of surpassing political and moral importance.”—Kirkus [starred review]
“The words of Dr. King live on as a gift to our country. As someone who stood beside him during those years, Clarence B Jones puts them in context and brings the stories around them to life. He and Stuart Connelly take us inside the greatest moments of the American civil rights movement and behind the scenes of a speech that awakened our collective conscience”—Soledad O'Brien
“America would be a very different place if it weren't for the hard work of men like Clarence Jones. Different — and vastly less just. Behind the Dream takes us behind the scenes of Dr. King's historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, which Jones helped write. It's a story that is as remarkable as it is inspiring.”—Arianna Huffington
“The words 'I Have a Dream' are as applicable today as they were all those years ago. Behind The Dream provides a beautiful glimpse at the origins of an enduring work. Clarence B. Jones illuminates the history in a way no one else could. To learn the story of the speech's creation from the man who was there is to appreciate Martin’s genius all the more.”—Betty Williams,Nobel Peace Laureate, President and Founder, World Centers of Compassion for Children International.
"What elevates this book above most scholarly tomes is its rare and invaluable insider’s insight into not only the happenings of the day but also the people involved." —Irish Examiner
"The book is wonderful, and rewarding for students of public speaking as well as of the civil rights era. Jones is particularly skilled at giving us the contingent nature of events as the happen, and that is a great gift to anyone who wants to understand where we’ve really come from. Highly recommended." — Nick Morgan, Forbes.com
Prologue Souls Beyond Measure xi
Chapter 1 History in the Making 1
Randolph's Legacy 3
Home Away from Home 9
Spin Before There Was Spin 15
Divided We Stood 21
Plagued by Doubt 27
The Celebrity Delegation 32
No Turning Back 42
Chapter 2 Tuesday 49
Early Signs, Early Warnings 51
A Group of Lobbyists 54
Memory and Metaphor 66
"To Counsel with My Lord" 77
Chapter 3 Wednesday 81
Dawn Reconnaissance 83
So Tired of All the Exploitation 89
How Do You Know You're Making History? 92
'Buked and Scorned 95
Preparation: The Speech, Part One 104
The Mechanics of Trust 113
Instinct: The Speech, Part Two 115
Electricity in the Air 118
Saving the Best for Last 125
Chapter 4 A Strike of Lightning, then Fifty Years of Rolling Thunder 127
Putting a Name to It 129
Why Did "I Have a Dream" Capture the World? 134
Breaking the Records 138
Out from the Gloomy Past 144
Chapter 5 In the Present, Tense 151
Welcome to Funtown 153
Money Makes the World Go 'Round 160
The Shepherdless Flock 171
Epilogue Dream On, March On… 185
Posted January 9, 2011
Clarence B Jones was the man behind one of the greatest speeches ever given in this country. This book gives a behind the scenes account of the moment when Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech. Very interesting.
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Posted October 11, 2013
Posted August 15, 2011
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