Trump, Marysville, the primary, FTDR, and Clarence Jones on MLK’s Dream speech

August 26, 2019

Michigan Policast for Monday, August 26, 2019

  In this episode:

  • The week in Trump (or at least as much as we could fit into one segment)
  • Trump, automakers, and fuel efficiency
  • Trump and trade war (mini-segment)
  • Presidential primary developments
  • Marysville, Jean Cramer, wtf? (mini-segment)
  • Medicare for All is not that popular
  • Fix the Damn Roads, the business community, education and roads. (oh my!)
  • “Hurricane Nessel” takes on robocalls
  • More Republican lawsuits
  • Interview: Clarence Jones, speechwriter, MLK's “I have a dream”
  • Transcript

Cover image credit to Artist Akse_P19, UK

Jump to:




The week in Trump (or at least as much as we could fit into one segment)











Trump, automakers, and fuel efficiency




“If you want to maintain a positive branding reputation with the future generations, do you want to be siding with the person that most of us think is the biggest climate denier in the world, President Trump?” ~Jeff Alson




Chart from Inside Climate News




Trump and trade war (mini-segment)








Presidential primary developments










Marysville, Jean Cramer, wtf? (mini-segment)












Medicare for All is not that popular





Nationwide, 55% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic said in a poll last month they’d prefer building on Obama’s Affordable Care Act instead of replacing it with Medicare for All. The survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found 39% would prefer Medicare for All. Majorities of liberals and moderates concurred.








Fix the Damn Roads, the business community, education and roads. (oh my!)



Business groups are urging the Legislature to raise taxes and to settle for nothing less than at least an eventual $2 billion funding increase in the transportation budget. ~@rstudley via @freep #FTDR Click To Tweet
Investing $1 to preserve a road in good or fair condition has been shown to save as much as $6 to $14 as the condition of the road deteriorates to a more-costly state of repair. ~ @PreserveMIRoads #FTDRClick To Tweet



Image from MRPA









“Hurricane Nessel” takes on robocalls





At Tufts Medical Center, administrators registered more than 4,500 calls between about 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on April 30, 2018, said Taylor Lehmann, the center’s chief information security officer. Many of the messages seemed to be the same: Speaking in Mandarin, an unknown voice threatened deportation unless the person who picked up the phone provided their personal information.


Image from TransNexus, Understanding STIR/SHAKEN



More Republican lawsuits





Interview: Clarence Jones, speechwriter, MLK's “I have a dream”




Donald Trump 0:05
I have been responsible for a lot of great things. For Israel. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it

Speaker 1 0:13
Healing cripples raising from the dead. Now I understand your God, at least that's what you've said. Come on King of the Jews.

Walt Sorg 0:32
Yeah, it's been the most insane week and the insane reign of the chosen one has a desperate Donald Trump responds to polling showing his approval rating tanking to 36%. This is the Michigan policast, and I'm Walt Sorg.

Christine Barry 0:45
I'm Christine Barry. August is supposed to be the quiet month in politics. But this August is an exception. We've got a wide range of issues that are bubbling including continued deadlock over fixing the damn roads. Efforts to up end the regulation of lawyers in Michigan, another federal lawsuit from a political party that could rename itself Politicians Not Voters, and Hurricane Nessel adds the battle against robo calls to her agenda.

Walt Sorg 1:14
And we have a very, very special interview from the archives. This week marks the 56th anniversary of one of the most important speeches of the 20th century. I'll be talking with the man who wrote the first draft of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech, and then watch from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as King went off prompter, as they say, halfway through the speech and preach to the nation.

Christine Barry 1:35
Amy Kerr Harden is off this week recuperating from what doctors call the summer crud. She'll be back next week.

Walt Sorg 1:42
First up, though, was this truly the most insane week of the reign of terror of Donald Trump? Well, in just one week, Trump tried to buy Greenland cancelled his Denmark trip because it wasn't for sale and called Denmark's premier nasty, causing new problems were in the ambassador to Denmark and former chiropractor, Carla sands, who now probably needs an adjustment thanks to all the twists and turns. He decreed new rules to lock up immigrant families indefinitely and further restrict legal immigration, reversed his position several times on gun background checks and payroll tax cuts, wondered about presenting himself with the Congressional Medal of Honor really. He accused the media have tried to crush the economy, though he doesn't need the media's help he's doing that himself. He again raised the issue of abolishing birthright citizenship. He declared he is the chosen one on trade and forced us to almost have a copyright problem with Andrew Lloyd Webber. He quoted a reference to himself as the second coming of God and the king of Israel. He labeled democrat voting Jews and disloyal to somebody probably Jews or Israel, but I'm not sure about that. And he claimed without evidence that Google manipulated the 2016 vote.

And then came Friday, when he escalated the trade war that is a huge threat to Michigan's economy. Trump's trade war with China threatens the auto industry, or agricultural exports. And on top of that he's at war with the auto companies over fuel economy standards. First, the auto fuel economy standards. Christine, the man who couldn't even make money with the casino is decided that he knows the economics of the auto industry better than the auto companies, what's his beef.

Christine Barry 3:16
This is really him talking about the federally mandated national standard for mile per gallon efficiency on cars and trucks. The Obama era standards phase these mpg efficiency over time, so that you should have a minimum of 29.1 miles per gallon by 2021. And by 2026, it should be 37.5 miles per gallon. And what that would mean is that automotive manufacturers would have to make sure that their vehicles met these standards for fuel efficiency by that timeframe. They've agreed to do that they've actually entered into an agreement with California who has stricter standards, then the rest of the nation on this.

Walt Sorg 4:01
They're the tail that wags the dog too, because the market's so big,

Christine Barry 4:04
Right, right. And, you know, there is some some good business sense in going with the highest possible standard. Because what that does, is it gives them not only the flexibility to know where they need to be, I mean, this allows them to predict how their engineering has to work, and where they're going to have to be standards wise, over the next several years. But it also gives them the flexibility to compete in different regions where, you know, some areas like Michigan, you know, we sell more pickup trucks here, or at least we used to, then we do smaller cars. So he wants to freeze these federally mandated fuel economy standards at 2021 levels so that they don't go beyond 29.1 miles per gallon. Now, he says that buyers, people who buy the cars would save $2700 per vehicle by 2025. Because they would be able to buy well cars would be cheaper, but they would also be safer because the with the money that you save that $2700 you could buy newer cars, which would be safer cars. I'm not kidding. That's his actual argument for that. That cost savings is wrong, it ignores the additional gas that you would have to buy Consumer Reports found that a 2026 vehicle would cost $3300 more and gas if the vehicle emission standards are frozen at 2021 levels. Okay, so Trump says you'll save $2700 consumer report says no, you're going to spend more money in gas, US fuel consumption if if Trump got his way that would increase by about 500,000 barrels per day, American consumers would lose about 460 billion dollars. And of course, environmental groups predict that it's even worse than that.

Walt Sorg 5:55
It doesn't even fit with the business plans of the auto companies. They're all shifting electric vehicles, General Motors and Ford are all in on electric. And they've pretty much said the internal combustion engine is a thing of the past. That's where they are headed. And of course, if you're using electricity, you're not burning any gas at all. And the fuel standards are very easy to meet.

Christine Barry 6:16
This standard is one of the biggest pieces of legislation we have that addresses manmade climate change. And the standards are expected to cut carbon dioxide levels by about 6 billion tons. The American Lung Association recently came out with a poll that 74% of Americans supported the existing standards just because of the health benefits and the benefits to reducing these emissions. So there's a human story to this as well as a business story. But it would be you know, if Trump won this little battle, it would be a win for oil companies and gas refineries who want us to buy more gas. And he an EPA chief Scott Pruitt have both referred to man made climate change as a hoax. That's where we're at now. He wants to put more gas into cars burn more gas.

Walt Sorg 7:11
In a normal world. That would have been the big story of the week out of the White House. But this is not a normal world. Trump ramped up the trade war he attacked both sides including calling the man he appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve and enemy. The latest eco babble coming from the White House over the trade war had an immediate impact on the stock market. The Dow Jones tanked on Friday, dropping 700 points on Friday after Trump escalated the trade war with Ward tariffs. The Christine while this was going on, there are several major developments in the democratic race to replace Trump. Story number three in our list of 500 this week, let's see what's going on in the presidential race.

Christine Barry 7:50
There were two big developments that I want to talk about two people with dropped out Seth Moulton and Jay Inslee. Before we get to Jay, I want to talk a little bit about Seth Moulton who nobody really knew who he was. He's a congressman from Massachusetts. But more importantly, it I think he's a former Marine, he fought in two major battles. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. He won that for fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire after four Marines were wounded. So that's a big part of his life. And he openly talked about post traumatic stress and the importance of getting counseling to deal with those combat experiences. And I think that that was a big thing for this man to do. So even if we hadn't really heard much from him in his race, the people who did know him and and now people who are hearing about him, I think are going to really take that to heart. I think he did a good thing there. Jay Inslee. Yes, he is confident that we'll have a candidate who makes climate change a priority, but he is also confident he would not have been the one.

Unknown Speaker 8:55
For decades we have kick the can down the road on climate change. And now under Donald Trump, we face a looming catastrophe. But it is not too late. We have one last chance. And when you have one chance in life, you take it.

Walt Sorg 9:13
That was Jay Inslee on Rachel Maddow his program where he announced that he was pulling out of the race. I think he is one of these people, one of these rare people in politics, who won, even though he lost. And I think Bernie Sanders is gonna end up being that way too, because he pushed the envelope on a very important issue. He made sure that climate change was at the top of the list for every candidate in the race. It wasn't pushed aside, and that we will be talking about it. And I think he did a great service, even though he never top 1% in the polls. I think Jay Inslee was a very valuable addition to this campaign.

Christine Barry 9:45
Yeah, I agree. And then Joe Biden ran his first TV ad and it makes three points. Number one, I'm beating Trump in the polls by more than anyone else. Number two, I used to work with Barack Obama. Number three, unlike Trump, I am not a insane.

Speaker 10:00
We know in our bones, this election is different. The stakes are higher, the threat more serious, we have to beat Donald Trump. And all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified. for eight years, President Obama and Vice President Biden were in administration America could be proud of our allies could trust and our kids could look up to them. Together, they work to save the American economy to pass the historic Affordable Care Act, protecting over 100 million Americans with pre existing conditions. Now, Joe Biden is running for president with a plan for america's future, to build on Obamacare, not scrap it to make a record investment in America schools to lead the world on climate to rebuild our alliances, most of all, to restore the soul of the nation battered by an erratic, vicious bullying precedent, strong, steady, stable leadership. Biden. President. I'm Joe Biden. And I approve this message.

Walt Sorg 11:00
And I think is a really effective message as long as he doesn't screw up in the debates or start having weakness in the polls and the early polls. He's doing well, he's holding on. He's running like a leader he's running for as a front runner. And that's his campaign. If he stumbles, though, I think it opens the door for somebody. In the second tier. I think it opens the door for a Pete Buttigieg, possibly Kamala Harris. And they are the one that take on Elizabeth Warren.

Christine Barry 11:28
Well, I agree that it's a good ad. I like the no one is more qualified, assuming that you want presidential level experience. There's nostalgia for the pre-Trump era. His messages, rebuild, restore, strengthen, and it speaks to some of the worst personal traits of this horrible president we have. I made a little bit of fun of the ad earlier, but I actually think it's really good. And the thing about Biden that you mentioned, as long as he doesn't goof, you know, he has always been a gaff machine. And yet, like he said, in his ad, strong, steady, he just keeps going. And he just keeps winning. So I think this was a good ad for him.

Walt Sorg 12:06
You talk about gaffe machines. If you look back in history, there was another gaffe machine in politics. His name was Dwight Eisenhower. And he he mangled the English language a lot. But he somehow managed to turn into one of the best presidents we've had in our history. So they'll try to make something happen, but gaffes vs a perpetual liar.

Christine Barry 12:26
Like I said, he brought up some of the worst personal traits of Donald Trump. And, you know, this is the Michigan Policast and we talk a lot about Trump because there's just so much to talk about there. But he is having massive effect in Michigan beyond the beyond just the economics of it. in Marysville, Michigan, there's three open seats on a city council, the candidates were asked, should they be more aggressive in attracting foreign born citizens because the population growth in that region had just exploded, and half of those are were foreign born residents, half of those new new people. And Jean Cramer comes up and says, keep Marysville, a white community as much as possible. And then went on TV and talked about interracial marriage and everything, you know that she's thinking Donald Trump has her back. And so there's some really ugly things that come out of this president. And I do want to see the Democratic presidential candidates talking about these crappy personal traits that this man has.

Walt Sorg 13:31
Another thing that happened on the race this week, and we really don't even have time to talk about it much is that the party candidates with the exception of Sanders and Warren seem to be shifting more and more towards a more moderate position on health care moving away from Medicare for all and moving I think more towards either putting in a public option, as Biden has suggested, or Medicare for all who wanted as Pete Buttigieg suggested. And I think that's being driven by the polling,

Christine Barry 13:57
it's clear that people want more access to healthcare, but they want to keep what they have this Medicare for All proposal that says it would be illegal to have private for employers to offer private insurance. It just doesn't even allow that debate to happen. People want to keep what they have.

Walt Sorg 14:16
Part of the problem that Bernie Sanders is trying to deal with now is there's no guarantees that if we go to Medicare for All that the savings for employers who provide most of the health care coverage in this nation, that employers will pass that on to workers, he wants to mandate now that in union contracts, that that'd be the case. But even he can't handle the question, Well, what do you do with private employers who are not in a union situation and decide, I'm just going to pocket I'm going to pocket at all, and my employees may pay higher taxes for Medicare for All. And I'm not going to give them any more money, because I've saved money. And that's a problem for him.

Christine Barry 14:52
It's really a problem for America. I mean, we should have something in place that says, look, you know, we're going to let taxpayers take on the cost of something and effects socializing it, that doesn't mean you get to privatized the profits, which is frankly, the American business model, socializing losses, and privatizing profits.

Walt Sorg 15:14
Okay, let's move to some Michigan specific issues now enough on the national scene, and how it impacts Michigan. Let's talk about what's going on right here at home. Christine, let's do a quick rundown. First, there appears to be no progress and efforts to fix the damn roads. But republicans are now getting a lot of heat from their bankers, the leaders of big business who fund their campaigns,

Christine Barry 15:34
Right. It's clear that the business community leaders know that there has to be new taxes. And I'll just, you know, put it right out there, Michigan Chamber of Commerce. Rich, studly says that this is a state problem and needs a state solution. The governor's solution of 45 cent tax on gas is viable. But there are other viable options as well. The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Brad, will you said that they don't even care how it happens, as long as we get two to two and a half billion dollars to fix the roads.

Walt Sorg 16:07
In the background, though, you've got these business people, I think, worried that if you don't go with something that's basically a consumer tax, the 45 cents per gallon gasoline tax, that instead it's going to be something that falls directly on business will increase the business income tax, or they'll they'll make other changes that have a bigger impact on business, they would just assume the consumers pick up the the major portion of fixing the road and roads.

Christine Barry 16:31
Well, and to that end, republicans did deliver a plan that would fund the roads by taking the 6% sales tax on gasoline, which kind of goes to the schools now, and that they would eliminate it. But then they would add 6% tax per gallon on the gas, which would boost the road spending, but it would cut the spending on education, which Governor Whitmer has said would be about a $400 per pupil cut. So again, we have roads and education tied to each other in this republican plan, which is just a non starter for this governor. This is a stupid fight. Walt. It's again, the you know, the tried and true tactic of the republican is to borrow money from Peter to pay Paul. And just they just never seem to learn any lesson about this. You know, the governor gave them an out she gave them a 45 cent gas tax increase, literally anything that they did would be more palatable to the public. Okay. So also this week, a second republican backed lawsuit trying to overturn proposal 2 which created the Independence Citizens Redistricting Commission, what is going on in this lawsuit Walt?

Walt Sorg 17:41
well, this was really pretty funny, because it's basically the republicans are suing saying that this constitutional amendment is mean to the Republican Party. They want to be the ones who pick the Republican members of the Independent Redistricting Commission, so that it would no longer be independent. They're basically saying that, you know, political parties have constitutional rights, something. Maybe it's something in the Bible or something. But it is a very weird lawsuit that they're there. They're throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks at this point, Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a statement basically saying this republican lawsuit is ridiculous it is, and she'll fight it on behalf of the two and a half million voters who added to our Constitution. It was just one of the actions this week and she continued to earn the nickname I've given her “Hurricane Nessel” with another flurry of actions aimed to protecting consumers in the environment. Christine, my favorite decile action of the week, and there were several came in conjunction with every other state attorney general in the nation, taking on those damn robo calls.

Christine Barry 18:39
You know, the robo calls are an actual quantifiable problem we had in the past month alone, 4.7 billion illegal spam calls. These aren't just like a nuisance to you and me, which they definitely are. But these things block like they tie up the lines and medical centers and other places where it's really important that the communication not be interrupted by a bunch of BS like these these calls. So what happened was in this agreement, 12 of the largest telecom providers have come to this this multi part agreement with the state attorneys general, one they'll adopt and implement call blocking technology. Number two is they'll make anti robo call tools available for free to consumers. I don't know what those tools look like. But you know, that's part of the agreement. And the third one, which is really interesting to me is that they'll deploy a new technology that will label calls as real or spam calls. And I will put a technical overview in the show notes, but it looks like it operates much like authentication technology does with email that helps you label email as junk or real or whatever. That's really good news. I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out. Also, this week, billionaire David Koch died, Koch and his brother Charles spent untold millions campaigning for their libertarian view of government. One of the organization's they spawned the Mackinac Center, took aim at the organization that regulates lawyers in Michigan, and that is the State Bar of Michigan. While to what are they doing? Is this a new thing?

Walt Sorg 20:17
No, it's not new at all. And I should say up front that I used to work for the state bar in Michigan. I was the assistant executive director there for several years. And this has been going on for a long time. Right now in Michigan to practice law, you have to be a member of the state bar and pay I think it's $315 a year and dues, a lot of which goes to the disciplinary system, the attorney grievance commission in the attorney discipline board, which are actually part of the Michigan Supreme Court, but they're administered by the state bar in Michigan and paid for by the State Bar of Michigan. What has happened is the plaintiffs in this case don't want to be forced to pay their dues. In effect, they want to make Michigan a right to work state for lawyers, where it's a voluntary bar, which is the case in many states, including California, New York, you don't have to be a member of the bar. But this would basically disrupt the entire disciplinary system. If it was voluntary. For lawyers to be a member of the bar, the amount of money for an attorney is pretty negligible compared to the licensing fee that a lot of professions have to pay in this state. But the what's interesting I find with this lawsuit is that it was filed on behalf of Lucille Taylor, who was governor john Engler, his legal counsel. And she is married to Cliff Taylor, who's the former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and who was taken out in a very bitter election many years ago. And they're actually now residents of Florida. But they are they maintain their bar membership in Michigan in case they want to practice law here. I don't know where this is going to go. But this has been a drive of some attorneys for dating back to when I work for the bar 40 years ago. It is something they simply don't think that the State Bar should be getting their money to advocate on behalf of issues that they don't necessarily agree with. Now, the State Bar historically has been very non-partisan. In fact, it has it maintains a PAC, it gives money to members of both political parties based on where they stand on issues of importance to the bar, things like access to justice, and some attorneys object to that as well. But it is something that they've been fighting year in and year out the Chamber of Commerce took on the bar on related issues many years ago. That's going to be very interesting because the Supreme Court already regulates the State Bar of Michigan. So this lawsuit goes to the organization that's in charge of the state bar, and where it goes, who knows other than the Supreme Court has got a very interesting case coming in front of it.

Christine Barry 22:37
Okay, so let's finish this rundown of the week on a happy note. Happy birthday to two great, excellent, awesome Michiganders Gretchen Whitmer, first of all turned 48. This last week, happy birthday governor and Walt celebrated a different number this week. Happy birthday Walt!

Walt Sorg 22:55
My number's a lot higher than Gretchen Whitmer on the birthday. Let's just say that Thank you.

This Wednesday is the 56th anniversary of one of the most important speeches of the 20th century. On August 28 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and set the stage for enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Back in my radio talk show days, the opportunity to talk with kings longtime advisor Clarence Jones, I learned from him that he wrote the first draft of Dr. King's speech hours before the speech was delivered. And that's where my conversation with Clarence Jones begins

Clarence Jones 23:39
the night before, which was August 27 1963. Before the so called march on Washington The following day, Dr. King and several of his close advisors who are available and not immediately doing other things connecting with the March, we huddled with him in the corner of the Willard Hotel. The congressman did then Reverend and subsequent Congress delegates Walter Fauntleroy a resting part of the time, Ralph Abernathy, and myself YT. Walker was in and out of the meeting, Professor Lawrence reading couple of others. And we talked about what Martin might consider saying the following day. Now, for the previous month, he had spent almost three weeks living in my home in Riverdale and New York, my wife and family to enable Dr. King and his Coretta, and their kids to be in New York, to be available to the organizers of the March on Washington, but also have somewhat of a vacation vacation setting. We have we vacated our home, the let Dr. King and his family stay in our home for some three weeks. So during that three weeks in July, periodically, we would talk about some ideas that perhaps they should consider when he was being asked to speak. But the bottom line is after having a lot of people giving them a lot of ideas and so forth. And he said, Clarence, are you taking notes? And I said, I will you want me to. And I started taking notes of the various points and suggestions of things that people thought he say, and then he had some points that you know, Clarence, maybe you want to go upstairs and try summarizing those and come back down. And so we can know sort of read them to everybody, and everybody will be on the same page, he wanted us to all have the same base of information. So I went up stairs to my room, maybe spent maybe 90 minutes an hour and a half. I tried to summarize as accurately as I could, what different people had said, and then I as I had often done on other occasions, maybe in the interest of just time the interest of effective organization, I drafted out a sample suggested 6-7 opening paragraphs that he might consider using, or would give him a basis upon which to develop the theme of his speech. I came back downstairs, and I read the summary on my notes to everybody. And I had no longer gotten into maybe 90 seconds or two minutes to read summary, people would start to say, Yeah, but you left out this, or you didn't know you didn't give, you should have given more emphasis on to this point, you left that out or you didn't give sufficient emphasis

Walt Sorg 26:03
the joys of working with a committee.

Clarence Jones 26:05
Yeah, that's right. Okay. And Martin Martin listened to that back and forth. And he finally, somewhat I think, a little bit of exaggeration, and it was getting lady says, All right, I thank you. You know, I thank you so much. All your advice and assistance. Now I'm going to stay as and I'm going to counsel with my Lord. But the next I was not focusing on the speech except to the extent that after he was mimeograph, that there was the proper notice on the new graph copies to protect his ownership of the speech. The next time I paid anything, any attention to it, is when he was giving it, I was standing, I don't know, 15 yards summer. And as he as he convinces the speech, and I listened to them remembering the draft exercises, and I said, Oh, my God,

Martin Luther King Jr 26:47
Five score years ago, a great American who symbolic shadow we stand today, Sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

Clarence Jones 27:03
I said this to myself, as he obviously liked or didn't have time, because he was just adopting, he was using the first seven paragraphs as a lead-in to the rest of his speech. And he didn't, he hardly changed the word. And then during the course of the speech, past the seven paragraphs, so I have written opening paragraph, Mahalia Jackson, the legendary gospel singer, was sitting in front of them on a platform. And she turned to Dr. King, who was then still reading from a prepared written text. And she said, Tell him about the dream, Martin, tell him about the dream. And Martin smiled and acknowledged what she said. And at that point, he turned the written text that he had at the podium, he turned it up, it turned him upside down, so that the text was face down. When I saw this from a distance, I said to whomever, whoever was standing next to me, I said something like, you know, these people may not know it, but they're about ready to go to church today, because I could sense that he was getting ready to do is going to transit into a form of Baptist oratory, and did and he did,

Martin Luther King Jr 28:08
I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.

Clarence Jones 28:29
And current fallen, Dr. King could mentally cut and paste anybody I've ever known. That is to say, while he was speaking, he could selectively take some his memory bank pieces of speeches, articles that he had written in the past, and put them together, reconfigure them. And that's exactly what he did in Washington. And because I had heard him speak about the dream, and earliest speeches, but he reconfigured it in a way that was different and not been done before. And, you know, he wax very eloquently with his poetry and pen, reading a biblical texts and poems, and it was very, very powerful.

Walt Sorg 29:03
It's amazing. The whole speech process started the day before,

Clarence Jones 29:06
practically it started three weeks before it started thinking about it. But it really got serious the night before. That's correct. In the in the corner of the hotel in Washington, DC.

Walt Sorg 29:15
Did you know As you were listening to him speak that this would stand out as perhaps the greatest speech of the 20th century?

Clarence Jones 29:22
No, I did not. I wasn't so much. I was listening to him. But I was watching. I was looking at those 250 to 300,000 people who were assembled, I was reading their reaction, I was seeing their reaction to listening to what he said, and by the nature, and by what he said, I could see that it was just just powerful. It was having a powerful impact.

Walt Sorg 29:45
A little more than 45 years later, on the very same steps of the Lincoln Memorial, there was a musical concert, commemorating what was going to be the inauguration the following day of Barack Obama as president, what were your feelings when that concert was being held, especially that venue, and all the work that you would done since you joined with Dr. King and became a part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference leadership 45 years earlier,

Clarence Jones 30:10
those of us who are still blessed with longevity, and who had an opportunity to work closely with Dr. King. Now we all in our own different ways, and I'm sure, John Lewis, of course, the generation behind as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, but you know, there were other ministers or other people who were around who would work closely with Martin. And I think that it had a profound, emotional, psychic consequence. It's, it's as if a young person in the genre of a Martin Luther King Jr. has stepped forward to apply some of the concepts and the abiding faith and confidence in America which Dr. King head to his own political campaign, you know, to Dr. King, first and foremost, was a religious leader. He was a minister of the gospel, people think of them as civil likely to put his faith and abiding belief in God was the fuel that ignited the engine of his moral leadership. Barack Obama says faith and religion appears to be central to his political leadership, but they would very different people. There was no question in my mind, and, and I think other those who travel that journey with Martin King as I did, that without the transformative effect of the struggle and leadership and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 20th century, in dismantling segregation, institutional racism, the election of Barack Barack Obama would not have been possible at the time that has occurred, quite frankly, I, to the extent that I ever thought about it, I thought that possibly some time in the indefinite future, there might be an African American president, but I certainly didn't think it would be in my lifetime,

Walt Sorg 31:50
as you think back to the words is that speech, and especially at the end, when he's talking about, I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the color the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Clarence Jones 32:04
But think of the image you think he was like. He was like an artist with a paintbrush. Think of the imagery that he is painting with words when he says a one day the great granddaughters great grandson, the slaveholders will sit down at the table brothers with a great great granddaughters and grandsons slaves. Think about, you know, that's that's that's powerful imagery.

Walt Sorg 32:27
It's difficult for most people really show up their life's work, in the words of one speaks, in a lot of ways it really does sum up your life's work.

Clarence Jones 32:35
Well, it does. I should, I should. And this is not being critical of what you're saying. But I'm trying to give some balance to what you're saying. Actually, you know, there were two other seminal works speeches that Martin King gave that I think, really had a profound impact on the nation, and particularly some of the leadership in the nation. One was the early that that year, he was in jail in Birmingham, and he wrote something has been called a letter from the Birmingham Jail. It was an extraordinary indictment and extraordinary description of what segregation meant to him and what it was doing to America as it was doing to him. And then there was the speech on April 4 1967, one year to the date of his death, his speech opposing the war, Vietnam, those are two powerful, powerful speeches.

Walt Sorg 33:29
It was an amazing time and what you and so few others really accomplished with your works without the the power of the government behind you, in many cases is truly amazing.

Clarence Jones 33:39
Oh, thank you so much. I've recently wrote a book called what would Martin say? And you can your listeners can go to

Walt Sorg 33:49
Clarence Jones is now 88 years old, he continues to teach as a scholar in residence at Stanford University. Two years after I spoke with him, he published a second book Behind the Dream; The Making of the Speech That Transformed the Nation. Both of his books are available on Amazon.

Christine Barry 34:04
And that's it for this week's policast for background information, links, videos, shareable tweets, and all kinds of things that help you share this information with your own networks, head on over to our website, We welcome your comments and questions. You can email us at MIpolicast at gmail. com

Walt Sorg 34:26
and please head over to iTunes to rate us and offer comments on what you're hearing. Just like Uber drivers. We love those five star ratings. Amy will be back with us next week. On behalf of Christine Barry. I'm old sword. Thank you for listening. Class dismissed.

Transcribed by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *