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Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation [Hardcover]

Clarence B. Jones , Stuart Connelly

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Book Description

Jan. 4 2011

“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.

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"A revealing insider's account of how King improvised parts of his 'I Have a Dream' speech at 1963's March on Washington."  -- USA TODAY

“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, 


About the Author

Clarence B. Jones served as speechwriter and counsel to Martin Luther King, Jr. and is currently a scholar-in-residence and visiting professor at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute. Selected by Time magazine in 1972 as one of “The 100 Future Leaders of America,” and twice recognized in Fortune magazine as “A Businessman of the Month,” Jones has received numerous state and national awards recognizing his significant contributions to American society. He lives in Palo Alto, CA.

Stuart Connelly is an author and filmmaker. He is a recent National Educational Press Association Award winner and blogs for The Huffington Post. He divides his time between rural Pennsylvania and New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, powerful book Jan. 20 2011
By Bartleby - Published on
I was impressed with this behind-the-scenes look at MLK Jr's famous speech. It's a short-but-sweet, powerful book with some fine writing. Good buy for schools, libraries or any American history buff.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dream Shared Jan. 22 2011
By Eddie Hutchinson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Clarence B. Jones, attorney and speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shares his memories and thoughts of that historic point in time: the March on Washington and King's `I Have a Dream' speech.

I believe many of us can articulate what transpired that day if not from memory, from history lessons and books. However, only a select few, those in King's inner circle, like Jones, can truly provide that rare glimpse into what transpired in the days leading up to, during and after the March on Washington.

In Behind the Dream we learn of the secluded haven procured for King to allow him to focus and prepare for the March, the collaborative efforts (of sorts) in creating the I Have a Dream speech, the influence of A. Philip Randolph, the last minute copyright efforts and much more.

The book's title couldn't be more apropos.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man behind the dream! Jan. 9 2011
By PDoherty - Published on
This very interesting book chronicles the days and weeks leading up to the moment when Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech. Amazing that it took fifty years for the story behind the speech to get out. Both inspiring and eye opening.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Found the book enjoyable and insightful Feb. 21 2011
By Craig Mohre - Published on
I just finished the book this weekend. One of the aspects I appreciated is the humbleness with which Clarence Jones describes the events and his role. Clearly, he was part of Dr. King's inner circle and a key contributor, but he does not take credit for the most moving portion of the speech. Instead, he credits Mahalia Jackson for recommending to Dr. King to "share the dream" and Dr. King's genius and unique abilities to deliver the message. Jones' humble, yet realistic approach, lends credibility to other important observations in the book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Dream Feb. 20 2011
By Jason North - Published on
I went from knowing suprisingly little about the March on Washington to feeling like I was right there with a quarter million people. It is amazing to learn of the courage and sacrifices that these civil leaders embodied.

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