WAMU 88.5 : The Kojo Nnamdi Show

50th Anniversary Of The March On Washington

Fifty years ago, final preparations for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom were underway. While most remember Martin Luther King Jr.'s legendary "I Have a Dream" speech, organizers recall countless other remarkable moments around that historic day. We talk with one of King's speechwriters, Clarence B. Jones, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton about that day and the way ahead for the civil rights movement.

Extended Interview

Kojo spoke with speechwriter Dr. Clarence B. Jones on Wednesday, Aug. 21, about concerns of violence leading up to the Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and how those concerns ultimately influenced the location of the event.

While parts of the speech were written in advance, some of it was improvised on the spot, including the most famous passages. Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson played an integral part in the inclusion of "the dream."

Jones has said he is often asked about King and who is living today who is most like him. Kojo asked, instead, what people seldom ask, and he wishes people would realize, about the man who is so often mythologized.

Jones shared insights into how Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches were written, both generally and in the case of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Jones discussed the significance of deciding to write the "I Have a Dream" speech in the future tense.

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