PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A South Jersey man who once served as counselor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored Tuesday at his high school alma mater, and is hoping to inspire more civil rights legends.
It’s been 70-years since Dr. Clarence Jones has stepped into Palmyra High School.
While the trappings have changed a bit. The love is remains the same.
“They empowered me with a sense of confidence and a sense of knowledge,” said Dr. Clarence B. Jones, Lawyer.
Educated first at a Catholic boarding school, Jones was the Palmyra valedictorian in 1949.
He was the son of in-home domestic workers, but would then go on to graduate from Columbia and Boston University Law School.
Jones’ experience with racism inspired his work in civil rights, leading him to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I met him when I was 29 and he was 31,” he said.
Jones became King’s lawyer, adviser and speech writer having inspiring parts of King’s 1963 “I have a dream speech.”
“We are gathered here today to cash a check that has been marked insufficient funds,” he said. “It was his speech I was honored that he would incorporate the text.”
Jones’ later broke color barriers on wall street and became a scholar and author of Behind the Dream.
This is a legacy Palmyra High teaches and will now honor by renaming its’ library the Clarence B. Jones Institute for Social Justice to inspire the next generation.
“Don’t let any third-party define who you are, you define who you are, Jones replied when asked what advice he had for young people.
And at 86 years young he is still defined by the love instilled here.
“I look in the mirror and I believe I’m beautiful, said Jones”
Luckily he won’t be changing anytime soon.