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Civil Rights Leader is First USF Diversity Scholar


Clarence B. Jones, USF Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor.

Distinguished civil rights leader and scholar Clarence B. Jones is the University of San Francisco’s inaugural Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor. Jones was a friend, counsel, adviser, and speechwriter to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Jones assisted King in drafting his celebrated “I Have A Dream” speech and personally smuggled the famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” out of the Birmingham, Alabama city jail on scraps of newspaper and toilet paper.

At USF, Jones is teaching the undergraduate course “From Slavery to Obama,” which features readings, lectures, and guest speakers that highlight the people and events that shaped America’s efforts to abolish slavery, address its historical consequences, and create a society based on racial equality. The course is a tribute to the legacy of King’s leadership, a leadership that transformed America, Jones said. “It is designed to enable honest and critical discussion of race in our country. 

The USF Office of Diversity Engagement Community Outreach established the semester-long visiting professorship to bring leaders on social justice issues to campus to teach and engage the USF community.

“Dr. Jones is a living legend, and this is a remarkable opportunity for our students,” said Mary J. Wardell, associate vice provost of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach. “As an internationally recognized leader in the civil rights movement, Dr. Jones brings an unmatched level of experience to the classroom.”

USF awarded Jones an honorary doctorate in humane letters in 2011. In 2008, the Museum of African American History honored him for his work during the civil rights movement. Former President Bill Clinton presented him with a White House Letter of Commendation in 1999.

In 1967, Jones was the first African American to become a partner in a Wall Street investment firm. Fortune Magazine twice named him businessman of the month.

Jones has appeared on a number of television and radio programs, including “The O’Reilly Factor,” “The Tavis Smiley Show,” and NPR, and he currently blogs for TheHuffington Post

Jones is co-author of the books “What Would Martin Say?” “Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech That Transformed a Nation,” and “Uprising: Understanding Attica, Revolution, and the Incarceration State.”

Written by Kathleen de Lara »email usfnews@usfca.edu | Twitter @usfcanews