Dr. Clarence Jones, co-writer of ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, warns future of country is ‘at risk’

In a special episode of Verizon’s #Next20Dr. Clarence Jones, the director of the University of San Francisco’s Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice and co-writer of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, discussed lessons from the Civil Rights movement and his hopes for the future.

Dr. Jones, an 89-year-old attorney, speechwriter and former confidant to Dr. King, spoke with Rima Qureshi, the chief strategy officer at Verizon, and Kala Garner, a Verizon network engineer, on Aug. 28 to mark the 57th anniversary of the inaugural March on Washington, which took place on the same date in 1963.

During the conversation, Dr. Jones shared his vision and his dream for the next generation as they grab the torch in the continued fight for equality amid a rash of violent and deadly acts against Black people committed by police.

“I bow to you and speak to you and your generation with profound love and respect,” he told the two hosts. “I know that you’re standing on the shoulders of Martin Luther King, Jr. because what you have done is you have touched the vulnerable soul of America and quite frankly, you have done it with tools that we didn’t have.”

Dr. Jones says he believes modern-day technological advancements, including social media and smartphones, have given a new dimension to the fight against racial injustice.

“If you, on the cutting edge of technology, can not figure out a way of how we’re going to communicate the essence of getting rid of this shackles of a legacy of slavery — if you can’t do it, who can?” he remarked.

Dr. Jones also warned that if we fail to make major strides over the next 20 years, we will endanger the groundwork laid by revolutionaries like himself and Dr. King.

“If we don’t, we won’t have a country that’s governable, because that’s the direction we’re going in,” he said. “If you don’t do this, everything we have worked so hard to achieve, it’s going to be at risk.”

Watch more of the interview in the video above.

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